“Sooner or later, we run.”
[Originally published on Cynsational Services, 2014]
If you are a fan of The Walking Dead you may recognize that phrase. In the season four trailer, our favorite crossbow wielding undead killer made an ominous prediction. When I heard Daryl say that, I knew that the survivors would be on the run again. It is not a new situation for them. In the first season, after society collapsed, the survivors searched for a safe place only to run for their lives from an exploding CDC at the end of the season. Hershel’s farm provided a serene place with plenty of food, water and space in season two. At the end of the season, a huge herd of walkers forced them to run from the farm, scattering the group as they ran for their lives.
And here we are again. Despite defending the prison from the Governor’s attack in season three, the group was faced with another brutal attack. The Governor showed up at the prison with a small army, a tank and hostages. After a gruesome execution, the Governor and his men attacked. The prison fences were breached and the prison was overcome by walkers. The survivors fled.
I thought the groups would all come together again because, surely, there was a plan, a place to meet outside the prison in case they had to quickly leave their safe haven. Maybe the survivors had agreed on a couple of meet up spots? Surely the council realized how fortunate it was that almost everyone naturally returned to the same spot on the highway after they fled the farm. When the governor rolled up with his tank, the survivors acted like they had a plan. But it turns out it was only a defense strategy for the prison.
Now, three episodes into the last half of the season I am disappointed to learn that despite all the running they’ve done they didn’t have a plan. (*SPOILER ALERT* if you aren’t up to date) The bus full of flu patients took off and all the passengers subsequently died and turned into a bus full of walkers. Carl and Rick stumbled off into the woods, found a house so Rick could recover and were found by Michonne who had been wandering the woods with two new walker pets. Three different groups are roaming the woods searching for other survivors: Tyrese and the girls; Maggie, Bob and Sasha are searching for Glenn; and Daryl and Beth are fleeing, barely tracking the others. Still recovering from his near fatal bout with the flu, Glenn finds himself miles away thanks to Eugene’s mission to go to Washington DC. How they will ever meet up again is the question for the remainder of the season, and maybe next season too.
Now you are wondering what does the poor decision making and bad planning of a group of fictional characters on a TV show about a zombie apocalypse have to do with you or your business. You aren’t (I hope) facing a hoard of hungry walkers or psychotic one-eyed bad guys trying to destroy you. But you can learn from the Walking Dead the importance of having a plan.
Every business is beset by disasters of varying degrees. Whether it is a customer service failure, technical calamity or circumstances beyond our control, your business has or will suffer misfortune. You will fight through and come out better for the lessons you learned. But are you prepared for the next time? Your team may have grown since you survived the last mishap. Do the new members know what you did or how to get through the next blow?
You may be thinking that you are too small to need a plan. I would argue it is most important for entrepreneurs and small businesses to have procedures in place to handle unforeseen problems. With only a small team, every person is important, their knowledge and contribution are paramount to the success of the business. Even a simple case of the flu which causes you or one of your key team members to miss a week of work could result in lost business. Could you have put a protocol in place to mitigate the damage?
The time is now to ensure you have procedures in place for unforeseen situations. Don’t delay. Sooner or later something will go wrong. Don’t wait for the zombie apocalypse to make a plan.