Posted by: Don Linnen | 18 June 2007

So What’s Next?

There’s always something next. Okay, so this isn’t one of those really profound blogs. What’d you expect from an Aggie?

The bigger question is how do you prepare for and react to what’s next? You can prepare so much that you don’t get anything else done. “Be Prepared” (p. 96 of the Boy Scout Handbook) is sometimes easier said than done.

Do you have a business continuity plan? It’s very important, but even commercial businesses with tons of money tend to ignore preparing for really stormy days.

There are lots of components to lose sleep over. What will you do for emergency fundraising? I’m not talking about making up for lousy funding because your development people are afraid to ask or write grant proposals like a remedial English class. (That sounds more like an HR issue.)

I’m talking about things like Texas tornadoes, runaway cars, plumbing leaks in the attic, criminal acts in the front door…all the things that probably won’t happen. They always happen to someone else. Right?

What’s your crisis communication plan? If you suddenly have a missing child, do you have anything in place better than the PA announcement that birthday cake is ready in the kitchen? Who’s prepared to be the voice of your nonprofit? Who’s authorized to be that voice?? Think about it.

None of this is fun. Business interruption…life interruption can be a real hassle. How you react is as important as being prepared. It’s part of the preparation.

If you’re a basketball fan, watch the Krzyzewski coached team at Duke react to things when something doesn’t go their way. There’s no time lost throwing their arms in the air or yelling at the refs (as if we even have refs in our game). Their immediate reaction is “what’s next?” They focus on getting back in the game right now…preparing for what’s next. That’s a pretty healthy way to live your life or run your nonprofit.

There are ways to prepare both physically and mentally for that curve ball that’s suddenly heading towards your nose at 85 mph. (Can you tell I’m a guy who loves sports?) Physical preparation may be as simple as just thinking about your nightmares and writing down the first two or three things you’ll do. That’s a good start.

With that, you’ve also begun your mental preparation…thinking about what things might get in the way of your normal life so that when you react…when you jump out of the batter’s box…you’re the only one who knows that you’re about to croak inside.

When you’re prepared, you’ll be amazed at what you can do (and who you can inspire) when you stay cool and rapidly adjust to the “new normal.” It can make all the difference in the world to you, your organization, and to the people you serve.



  1. As I picked up my 5 year old daughter at her after school care the other day I noticed the teenager in charge of her group had a spiral bound book of tabbed note cards with her. Each tab was titled with a single event (“tornado warning”, “fire alarm”, “missing child”, etc) and I assumed the card had the steps of what to do if that event happened.I hope they never have to use them but I was glad and impressed that they had them.I am enjoying the blog, keep it going.

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