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Control the Effects of Change

What do you do when you're in charge of implementation of a decision you may not have made or agree with? You've been hesitant and uneasy from the beginning because your gut feeling was, "this doesn't seem fully baked." And inevitably, after time passes and money is spent (or lost), the wheels seem to be coming off. Last minute meetings are being called; emails are flying; spreadsheets are proving fault. And you still have your normal tasks and goals you're trying to achieve.

As bleak as that all sounds, there's an equal force of hope and good news. By using a simple decision making tool, you can avoid, eliminate, or mitigate undesired outcomes. There are a few easy steps to take if you want to prevent wasted resources when implementing decisions. This hope is called a contingency test.

Begin by writing the proposed decision in the center of a circle on a flip chart. Ask participants tap into their inner negativity to identify potential problems which might occur with this decision. Do not discuss or analyze the problems at this point.

Next, encourage participants to identify ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate each potential problem. Come up with as many solutions as possible for each potential problem.

After this, determine which solutions must be incorporated into your decision action plan. Write them down and assign owners to those solutions.

Using a simple contingency test taps into the innate human tendency to be negative, engages stakeholders in preventing problems before they happen, and increases confidence and commitment to the ultimate action plan. Start with being negative to get a positive result.

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