The PACE Edition
On planning, alternatives, and the power of a mnemonic.
Chris (CP) is a friend of WITI. He’s a former Green Beret and writer. Along with our pal Brady, he is responsible for the most-read WITI of all time: The Go Bag Edition.
Chris here. Master plans fail first contact, improvisation is for suckers, and you need a backup plan. Three, in fact.
A Primary plan, an Alternate, a Contingency, and an Emergency. It’s called “PACE” planning, and it provides a structured framework for decision-making and problem-solving that is easy to remember and extensible.
Why is this interesting?
You probably don’t need PACE planning for a Target run—but you do need PACE in case the zombie in the parking lot wants to eat your brain:
Primary: Check the parking lot for zombies before you park
Alternate: Run away from the zombie
Contingency: Hide from the zombie and wait for the cavalry
Emergency: Blast the zombie
The PACE mnemonic comes from the military, which necessarily needs robustness and resiliency in their planning. Here’s a PDF from the U.S. Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence that describes PACE in terms of communications.
One of the key strengths of PACE planning lies in its adaptability to different situations. Here’s a PACE plan for communications if you’re backpacking with your family:
P: Stay within earshot
A: Cheap radio with spare batteries
C: Phone w/charger
E: If none of those work, make yourself visible and stay where you are.
In high-pressure scenarios—say corporate strategy or military operations—decision-making can be a daunting task given the many unknown unknowns. PACE planning, by nature, encourages a thorough examination of potential scenarios and the development of strategic responses. This process enhances your ability to think critically, weigh options, and choose the most appropriate course of action based on the unfolding circumstances.
There are psychological benefits to contingency planning as well; in these high-pressure scenarios, it’s easy to get mentally and emotionally lost in the fog of war; knowing you have several fall-backs can bolster confidence and clarify next steps. More broadly, the ability to adapt and recover quickly from the unexpected builds resilience in both the plan and the planners. (CP)
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Chris (CP)
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