As we wind down this current Financial Year and our workplaces and businesses are planning for the year ahead, we need to remember that sometimes we just don’t know what could be ahead. That unanticipated, catastrophic events happen. So what can we do to ensure we equip ourselves, and our people, to best face what we can’t even conceive yet? Here are 7 lessons we can learn about preparing for the unexpected:

Accept that unplanned catastrophic events happen: create the space to have open, frank and honest discussions about what could come out of left field to throw you off track. Anticipate the unexpected.
Focus on what’s important: Toowoomba mayor Peter Taylor, when asked about what the priority will be for the Queensland flood recovery efforts in 2011 said: “We’ll focus on the people first. Property can be repaired and replaced. People can’t.”
Have a clear understanding about what needs to be done: Understand clearly what you are wanting to achieve this year, and ensure that your people know and support this vision too. Focusing on the destination – not the journey – will mean that minds are open to the possibilities of taking another route, if the one planned is somehow sabotaged.
Know that sometimes the plan must change: The first solution, or pathway, you identify will not be the only one. It may be the best one in current circumstances, but if circumstances change so must your solutions. Identify your alternatives. Keep asking “And what else?”
Don’t ignore the warning signs: Keep your eye on the ball and put processes in place that allow for constant and continuous scanning. Look for signs and patterns that an unexpected event might be about to occur.
Believe that more can be achieved together than alone: Ensure you have a great support network that extends beyond your own work team. This means focusing on building relationships throughout the organisation and eliminating ‘silo’ thinking and practice. Look for opportunities for collaboration between teams and departments.
Remember that even the smallest tugboat can avert disaster: Invest in some training in developing personal and workplace resilience