What Surprises Await You?


Surprise! Your plans exploded!

As I finished writing this article last week, with the working title of Plan, Execute: Surprise, my husband, worked diligently to fix a printer across the hall. He asked me to print something…anything. I complied without knowing what I printed. My next step was to copy and paste the article into WordPress for my website. Apparently I deleted the article and my hard work disappeared. Gone! Kaput! Deleted forever! What a surprise!

The joke was on me. I’d need to write the article again. O, woe is me! The irony of my situation did not escape me. Since I’m speaking to a job group in early February, I quickly posted the upcoming event. Planned, executed  the speaker announcement to overcome the disaster. Yet another surprise arrived. I found the hard copy on the floor by the printer. I decided to share the story with you this week, as it certainly demonstrates surprises can generate joy or sadness.

We need to make the most of situations, don’t you think? The re-write is undoubtedly better than the first iteration. What a nice surprise!

Plan, Execute: Surprise

Periodically we stop to begin a new project or re-organize to achieve our goals and accomplishments. Many companies talk about “execution plans.” Often the surprises in the process force us to execute (make it happen) or kill (stop) it. What surprises happened to you in the past year, personally and professionally?


We make resolutions but often seem to lose sight of our desire, succumbing to old routines. Companies say they are innovative, but when you suggest a new method, we may hear, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

The good news is planning helps, really helps! We assign goals and tasks to achieve the business and professional goals, whether employed or self-employed, but emotional factors play an integral role for success.

Execute (maybe Kill)

“Jane” wants things her way. She’s the new engineer on the team with many years of experience but the depth of her understanding of company culture is negligible. When she proposed a new time for the weekly meetings, “Allan” objected. She stood her ground.  Meeting on Friday afternoons, when everyone wants to leave early, keeps people from providing details about the delays and difficulties emerging on current projects. Those in a hurry, try to remain quiet, looking at their watches every 20 seconds, as the analytic co-workers drone about details.

Allan, on the other hand, argues no one accomplishes anything on Friday afternoons, which means to him time could be used better by discussing the problems and pitfalls they face.

Someone in the back of the room whispers to Jane at the break, “Don’t you know who he is? He was one of the first employees hired 20 years ago. He’s a team leader with clout.” Throwing the decision to the Manager or Director supervising these two competing employees can be unpleasant for all concerned. Are Allan and Jane competing? Yes! They are like children in a game of Crazy 8’s. Who will win?

No one answer exists and alternatives need discussion. Office politics can kill or motivate working together.


Management dislikes confrontation, especially in team meetings. What happens next? Is Jane becoming a trouble-maker? Is Allan known to be negative about everything, yet technically brilliant? What about the company’s financial stability? What is the company culture? Are employees encouraged to improve process or stogy and slow to change? Both individuals need to find a middle ground for a solution or the surprise may be a nail in the career coffin for one of them, if the confrontation creeps into dividing the group. The nail may have a different connotation. Jane may “nail it” or win. The others may respect her for helping with a head-start for the week-end. Allan may not like the change but he’ll fall into line: he’s a company guy!


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