Millions of people are trapped in their homes at the moment thanks to the ice and snow. We might all moan about the country grinding to a halt, but unlike Canada or Norway, which experiences worse than this every year, it surely is not worthwhile investing in the equipment and resources necessary to deal with this kind of weather when we only get it every 30 years or so. The whole British weather situation raises interesting planning questions. But much media coverage and pub chat is focused on the wrong one. People are concerned with why we didn’t plan to deal with the snow, clear the pavements and enable to get the country moving again.
Surely, though, with this weather so infrequent, what we should have is a plan in place that allows us to cope when the country does stand still. In other words, rather than plan for extra grit, snowploughs and getting the trains running again, we should have a plan that says, OK this is what we do when everyone is at home and the schools don’t open.
Online, you often see people making the same planning errors. They plan their website in meticulous detail; they organise everything it’s possible to consider for a website and its associated promotion. Yet, their website fails to succeed. They then ask for help, advice and spend hours online searching for solutions to what went wrong.
But what really happened was they didn’t have a second plan in place. This is the plan on how to cope when the website works. For instance, if you build a website that intends to bring in more business leads, what is your plan to cope when the number of leads you get exceeds your expectations? If you are selling products from your website, what is your plan when you sell more (or less) than you envisaged? And if you are a service-based business, what is your plan for coping with all the additional phone calls your website may generate?
Frequently, people plan their website and their social networking activity in some detail. Commonly, however, they don’t plan for the impact their online activity will have. This results in not being able to work on their website and grow it, which then reduces the effectiveness of the carefully planned website. Companies appear to end up in a cycle of problems; they plan a website, cannot cope with its impact, blame the website and replan it, then fail to cope….and so on.
What is needed are two plans – firstly a plan for your website and then a plan on your coping mechanisms. If you have these two plans in place new research also suggests it is much more likely to work. Researchers in Germany found that when people have an action plan and a coping plan to deal with the impact of those actions behaviour change is much more likely. It shows that when we only plan for one thing, but not the impact of that plan, we are much less likely to succeed.
So, if you are locked in at home because of the snow you could take the time to plan your website for 2010 and plan for the impact of those changes. You probably have the time to do that this week…!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+