Sometimes things happen. Murphy raises his head and gets Mrs O’Leary’s cow to kick over the lantern and start a fire.  The minor detail that Mrs O’Leary’s cow did not actually start the Great Chicago Fire completely not withstanding, it is an image that is firmly fixed in pop-history.  There are a lot of things like that.

Sometimes stuff happens. 

Sometimes projects fall to pieces for any number of reasons.  Even when the software is “in production” the wheels fall off.  This can happen when we do no planning or when we have planned greatly.  This can happen when we have considered every possible contingency and none at all.

The “Black Swan” lands in the middle of our existence and we find ourselves in a situation we are for which we are absolutely unprepared.How we deal with it is the great question.

Do we rise to the occasion and direct actions and activities effectively?  Do we handle crisis with calm determination to overcome adversity?  Do we roll with problems or do we bully our way through things?

Here are some things I learned that are probably good ideas to keep in mind when the wheels are falling off:

1.  Keep Calm.  No, really.  This is kind of a big deal.  Someone needs to keep their head so why not you?
2.  Understand the Situation. Yeah, this one can be hard.  Particularly when things make no sense.  Still, if you can achieve #1, this becomes a tad more likely.
3.  Communicate Clearly.  Tell people what you know when you know it. Don’t mince words.  Don’t couch your message in “nice” words.  Say it like it is.
4.  Think.  Some of us remember when folks at IBM had that on their desk.  It is still good advice.
5.  Trust Others.  They can have good ideas, too.
6.  Make Decisions.  That sounds simple, right?  What about when you are not sure what the right decision is?  Still Simple?
7.  Be ready to Change Your Decision.  If you act, and act wrongly, act again to correct it.
8.  Be Honest.  That one is kind of challenging for some people.  And that is a sad thing.  

Will doing those things prevent disaster?  Will they keep everything from crumbling around them?  I don’t really know.

What I can tell you is this:  Not doing them increases the probability of collapse, if not disaster.

Do not allow yourself to be drawn into emotional responses and reactions.  Do not, under any circumstances, hit this button: