Frequently asked questions

So, what is Plan B, really?
For what kind of issues is Plan B the way to go?
When do I start with Plan B?
How do I start with Plan B?
Who’s helping me?
Who’s using Plan B?
What about the method and the toolbox?
What about our Plan A?
What if we don’t have a Plan A?

For ‘design thinkers’:

Is Plan B just a practical approach to design thinking?
Why not use the word ‘service design’?

So, what is Plan B, really?

Great question. Lots of thoughts have crossed our minds, but so far we haven’t found the one word that says it all. So far. You could call it a management philosophy, a conceptual framework or a methodology. Still vague, isn’t it?

We could put a lot of energy in finding the right term, but maybe we don’t have to. ‘Things’ like Prince2, Agile and Lean are described in vague terms as above mentioned, and still they are widely embraced. So, maybe we don’t have to search for the perfect name that says it all.

If you want, you can see Plan B as what Agile is for software development, what Prince2 is for project management or what Lean is for processes. It’s all that. But it’s more. A lot more. Yes, it is a guide to manage projects, to innovate and to develop solutions. But, instead of just creating the solutions you have in mind and end up with small improvements, Plan B grabs the underlying causes, learns to be more innovative and effect change – fundamentally. It helps you to stop running around in circles and makes you enjoy the ride. Fast and simple.

So, it’s a philosophy, a framework and a method. For problem solving and innovation. It’s about learning to act differently. To break through the status quo.

For what kind of issues is Plan B the way to go?

Plan B can be used for every business challenge. But you probably want to see a clear proposition, in which you can recognize yourself (or not). You just want to know if you’re in the right place, don’t you? So we’ll give it a shot.

So far, Plan B is mostly used for the development of new strategies and concepts. And for redesigning services, processes and (ICT) systems. Here are some examples:

A company which had to reinvent itself, because the world has changed and their services weren’t as valuable as before. To survive, they had to change. They used Plan B to develop a whole new strategy and identity – including new services and new (internal) processes and ways of working.

An organization which invested a lot of money in a software tool for knowledge and information sharing. It looks great, but people are not using it. They used Plan B to change the situation and learned how to act in the future, so this will not happen again.

A team that had a great idea, but they didn’t get the board convinced. They used Plan B to learn how to tell the story that made the board so enthusiastic that they couldn’t wait to get this idea into the world.

A management team that wanted a better connection with their customers. They used Plan B to learn how to create real value, and to discover which solutions will keep their customers (happy) and getting lots of new ones.

A manager who wanted to make a positive change in collaboration and connection between the organizational ‘islands’: groups of people with different cultures, interests and needs.  He used Plan B to get rid of the frustration and misunderstanding and move forward – together.

A project manager who just wanted to learn a different approach, to add to the traditional methods he learned. He used Plan B to get insights in how to avoid the pitch falls of projects ending up in costing more time and money than planned. And he learned how to get a better spirit and corporation in teams. Read this article: Project Management – The Value of Plan B.

A consultancy firm that wanted to broaden their knowledge and get some practical tools and inspiring insights to use on assignments for clients. They used Plan B to renew their own service.

Read What people say about Plan B

When do I start with Plan B?

Every time is a good time.

When you start fixing an issue or developing a solution

When you have an issue that’s on the agenda for a long time, but nothing is happening. No real action and no way to get rid of it

When you’re working on something, but got stuck along the way

When you’ve already put a lot of energy in your issue, but the solution isn’t found yet or isn’t working. You’re running around in circles and can use a boost, a new insight, another path

How do I start with Plan B?

Plan B is learning & doing at the same time. Grab your issue or challenge and let Plan B support you along the way. You will learn how-to use Plan B and create beautiful solutions at the same time.

And the next time, you can do it yourself. You know how it works. It’s as simple as that. And if you’re nice, you’ll teach it to other people. That makes Plan B sustainable.

So, it’s not like you’re hiring an expert who does the job and walks right out of the door. No, you’re hiring a coach to get you through the process and you will learn it yourself. So you don’t have to hire again.

Check our page ‘get started’ to find out more about how you can start.

Who’s helping me?

The first time, you need someone to guide you through Plan B. This will be Daphne or one of the Plan B partners; to support you.

We work according to the ‘Hollywood model’: temporary, fluid alliances where we team up and make it happen. For large productions, the core team is supplemented by experts, depending on what the situation requires. Just as in making movies; sometimes you need a stuntman, makeup artist or special lighting experts. In our case, for large productions, we work with behavioral specialists, creativity gurus, storytelling heroes and other experts. See our partner page for a glimp.

And of course, there is the amazing Plan B Boosting Board.

(BTW: when you’re dealing with knowledge or information challenges, you’re lucky because you’ll get that expertise from Daphne too – for free).

Who’s using Plan B?

People who want to move forward by using a different approach. Directors, (project) managers, entrepreneurs, professionals and consultants. In teams or as individuals.

Individuals mostly participate in the open courses and classes. Or they ask for  private (online) sessions. Teams mostly ask for in-company courses or classes.

Read What people say about Plan B

What about the method and the toolbox?

Plan B is not a prison. It’s more like a playground. Every phase is built upon 7 steps. For each step you get lots of tools and techniques. It’s up to you which one(s) you would like to use. They’re all valuable, but it depends on your situation and your own talents whichever one suits you. The tools and techniques are simple and easy, and you can always switch or add something.

What about our Plan A?

You don’t have to throw it away. It’s still valuable. Plan B is an enriching way to deal with complex issues. Just add Plan B to your Plan A and turn it all into a great new path.

What if we don’t have a Plan A?

Logically, you should think that you have to have a Plan A before you can start with Plan B. In this case: no. In a lot of cases there is no real plan at all. In all cases: you can start with Plan B. Skip the Plan A phase and go right ahead with Plan B.

Is Plan B just a practical approach for design thinking?

When you’re familiar with design thinking, Plan B maybe just look like a practical approach for design thinking. I can imagine: the process is based on design thinking and the phases are not that different. So yes, it IS a practical approach for design thinking. Turning design thinking into design doing. However, Plan B is more. It all started with design thinking as a base, but for business issues this approach just wasn’t enough sometimes: some aspects needed to be reversed and complemented. Therefore, further research was done and other sources were found in the U Theory (Scharmer), Sensemaking (Weick), Business Model Generation (Osterwalder & Pigneur) and lots of other stuff – crossing all disciplines, professions and sectors. Besides, research has been done in China, to understand how the contradictions of our ‘Western thinking’ can help us to think and work smarter in a changing world.

Let me give you some examples of some reversed or complemented aspects:

  • Without implementation, an idea has little value (or is even useless). In Plan B it’s all about implementation. Design and implementation are not separated; it’s all the way; including development, execution, introduction and the actual implementation of putting it all into use.
  • Plan B is about learning businesses to act different – to solve problems and to innovate. Quotes like ‘learn from failure’, ‘work with incredible speed’, ‘be creative’, ‘have empathy’ may sound easy, but these are not the kind of things we learn in (business) schools. When you’re not used to this, this way of thinking and acting requests a fundamental change. Plan B is designed to make that change – by doing. To achieve this, Plan B is developed from a deep ‘dive’ into the underlying causes: the reasons why businesses act the way they act nowadays. There are legitimate reasons and without fixing these underlying causes and assumptions, a fundamental other approach will not happen.
  • Plan B is more than user centred design. It’s about designing with care for all meaningful players within ‘the system’. You always have to deal with more players than just the ‘end user’. Players with different interests, whom you cannot ignore in the business world. So Plan B is about designing from the starting point ‘why’ to everyone who is affected. It’s all about creating value, but value to whom?
  • In addition to the previous: everyone has different perspectives and interests, which can lead to miscommunication and frustration. Plan B is designed for understanding and smooth collaboration. Lots of aspects in the Plan B process are designed especially for this. For example, one of the Plan B roles is ‘you’: this is about your own position, interests and use of language. And you’re own ‘why’. Indispensable! (Remember: you’re not stuck in traffic, you ARE traffic).

Why not use the word ‘service design’?

There are several types of innovation and design. You can design services, processes, business models, products, software, experiences and more. People have asked why Plan B isn’t named as a method for service design. The answer is pretty simple: because often the solution isn’t about services. When you start working on a business issue, you don’t know what the outcome will be. It can be a new service, but it also can be a new product, a process, a business model, or…whatever. You just don’t know the answer yet.

Thereby, for people who are not familiar with design thinking, this term can make the ‘wrong’ impact. In ‘business’, the word design is often associated with fashion, graphic design or styling. Designs in these forms are often seen as a ‘luxury’ thing, a cosmetic / aesthetic addition that is not really necessary. Not a great way to start, hm? Also, the word ‘thinking’ doesn’t suggest the idea of big results (in this case, design doing would be a better alternative.) So, that’s why in Plan B words like service-, process- or software design are not emphasized.

Do you have another question?

Feel free to ask! Mail (in Dutch or English) to: