The HOT Plan™: Expect the Unexpected


If there’s one thing you can expect in business, it’s the unexpected.

Chance meetings , market shifts, natural disasters or a runaway stock market – when the unexpected lands on your plate, are you prepared to seize the opportunity in it?

John F. Kennedy once said. “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”

New opportunities for your business will appear out of left field each and every year. Sometimes the unexpected brings progress to a screeching halt. Other times the unexpected opens new doors of opportunity. We can’t control the unexpected, but we can prepare for it. Have you learned the secret of finding opportunity in the unexpected? Do you have a strategy in place to capture it?

The HOT Plan includes a strategy for handling the unexpected through Open HOT Targets (Open HOTs). Open HOTs are available to each team as a tool for minimizing loss and maximizing opportunity when the unexpected happens.

Open HOT Targets balance the need to plan ahead with the need to make room for the unexpected.

Open HOT Targets

Because we expect the unexpected, all of our teams reserve 12 Open HOT points to capture the unexpected when it happens. The opportunity to receive points for unexpected work builds team morale and provides a way for the added workload to be valued and appreciated. This is a powerful retention factor for top talent.

One example of Open HOTs came when our accounting department received new taxation guidelines mid-year. Our company needed a quick and accurate assessment of the overall budget impact these guidelines would have, but that meant long hours and an extra load for the accounting team. The sacrifices this team had to make in order to provide what the company needed might have gone unrecognized if the accounting team had not submitted the project as an Open HOT Target. The Open HOT Target they submitted went something like this:

Accounting Team Open HOT Target: New tax guidelines
[1. Who?] The accounting staff [2.What?] will prepare a report explaining the impact of the new taxation guidelines on our company [3. When?] by June 15, [4. How?] as evidenced by presenting the report at the July planning meeting.

The team successfully finished on deadline. The requested report was given at the July planning meeting, and applauded.  Accounting was officially recognized with a company award for their extra effort, and they also gained extra points for the annual bonus pool. Without the Open HOT strategy, this team’s extra work might have been invisible to leadership, as is so often the case in organizations.

For examples of Open HOT Targets and more tips on how to cultivate a great workplace culture, check out my new book, The HOT Plan™, that is available on Amazon in eBook or print versions. For special bulk pricing (10 or more books), please visit Visit for more details about The HOT Plan™.

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