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  • Writer's pictureAlan Shoebridge

What to do when your plan falls apart

Three weeks ago, I wrote about how important it is to work your plan. My advice was to allow for some experimentation, but stay focused 80% of the time on what you’ve planned to do. Like many of you who also work in healthcare marketing, my 2020 plan is out the window. Gone, and it might not come back this year. So, what can you do?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was “The A-Team.” The highlight of every episode was the leader, Hannibal Smith, saying his catchphrase: "I love it when a plan comes together."

Here is the premise of every episode of the show, at least the first couple of seasons before it got really weird. The team takes an assignment, comes up with a plan and everything goes pretty smoothly at first. Yet, every single time the original plan fails and the team gets put in some situation that at first appears to have no solution. Like getting locked in a warehouse while the bad guys are about to rob a bank or burn down the town or whatever. So, what happens? Well, Hannibal and the team looked around the warehouse for ideas. It appeared pretty bleak at first, but they figured out how to build a tank from a forklift, a hot air balloon out of trash bags or develop some other inconceivable contraption that surprised and overwhelmed their enemies when they came back.

In short, they got creative, maximized their resources and came out the other side in great shape. The intro to the show pretty much sums it up:

This all might sound a bit silly and it is, but I think the same principle applies to what is going on in healthcare right now. Our original plans – however poorly or wonderfully they were designed - have been turned upside down by a situation that we didn't see coming and had no precedent for understanding. We’re adjusting everything on the fly and making use of whatever resources we have. This is the time to fall back on our expertise, our training and do what we know works.

In our field specifically, healthcare marketers and communicators need to adjust our messages, move quickly to make decisions, try everything we've been wanting to do to reach our audiences and deliver things of value. We need to help our organizations communicate more directly, more quickly and more transparently than ever before. We need to help implement new technology and meet patients where they are, which in most cases is in their homes staying 6 to 10 feet away from everyone else.

None of this will be easy. It will probably be harder than anything we’ve done in the past or will do in the future. But what’s the alternative? We can’t give up. This is a time where we can make a true difference in helping people stay healthy and safe.

Hannibal wouldn’t accept anything less from his team.


On a less serious closing note: TV in the 1980s

A few years ago, I went back and watched a few episodes of the A-team. They weren't great. The movie remake was an abomination. In my experience, most shows that I watched growing up were mediocre at best and the remakes were truly awful. We live in a much better era for TV now. The one exception for me is the original Magnum P.I. I won't hear a negative word about that show. Ever.

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