The Danger of Not Knowing What You Don’t Know

You just bought a new laptop and learned that its operating system doesn’t run your most important software. Someone is going to get a very nice birthday present.

You’re stuck in traffic. After all your research and planning, you’re going to miss your vacation flight.

A conversation with the support team of your primary software packages or a quick check of the software’s basic requirements section could have averted your laptop mistake. A quick check of your phone’s map app could have alerted you to the traffic snarl ahead providing alternate routes to make your flight on time.

Each one of these problems could have been avoided with a simple question beginning with ‘what-if?’ When we fail to look down the road, to think proactively, many of the things we do not know can become real potholes, traffic jams, bridges out, and roads closed on our life’s journey. And just as we fail to miss the troubles by failing to look ahead, we also miss many of the opportunities our journey might afford us. Sadly, most never realize how much better life could have been with relatively modest course corrections.

Planning is an active continual process. It is not a one-and-done event. It involves setting goals, harnessing resources to meet them, and monitoring progress along the way. But these are just the basics of planning – just like heading to the airport for your vacation after weeks of researching and planning your trip only to forget to check the traffic between you and the airport.

Once you have built a wonderful plan that explains everything you want to accomplish in life and marshals all of your resources to accomplish as many of them as possible at their ideal levels, it is tempting to treat it like you might a new car – gingerly. In fact, just the opposite is called for. That new car should be stretched to its limits on a test track to see just how good it really is for speed, endurance, turning, stopping, shaking and avoiding hazards.

We regularly stress test plans using Monte Carlo (testing the probability a plan meets its goals in all kinds of capital markets), but that is not enough. The best looking ahead is done in partnership with our clients as we ask and analyze what-if questions that matter to them and, just as importantly, those that should matter to them given their plan’s characteristics and their unique concerns.

By proactively looking down the road with our clients, we can identify and eliminate probable obstacles or steer around them. But just as importantly, perhaps even more so, we will find opportunities, easily missed without pushing that new ‘car’ to its limits. It’s the only way to learn your plan’s true capabilities of delivering the very best outcomes possible.

There are no straight roads in our future. Planning is the process of navigating them as well as possible, by making corrections along the way as we encounter unexpected and unavoidable events. But think how much more enjoyable the ride could be if you eliminate the potholes and lane closures you can know about? How much more enjoyable still if through better planning, you could find better, faster, more enjoyable roads to even better destinations?

Call us and let’s get on the test track to understand as much as we can about what lies ahead for you.