It’s not uncommon to hear that an unsolved problem being addressed with Plan B hasn’t yet been solved. This is occasionally followed by the conclusion, “See, it’s not working.” Naturally, it's important to ask for details. And, indeed, it does usually turn out that the problem hasn’t yet been solved. In other words, the ultimate destination of Plan B – solving a problem durably – hasn’t yet been reached. But Plan B has already starting "working".
That’s because Plan B is almost always working in one way or another, irrespective of how close to the ultimate destination the process has moved. Plan B is working if a kid is willing to discuss an unsolved problem with you. It’s working if he actually participated in the conversation. It’s definitely working if the kid provided information that helped his parent or teacher understand his concerns about an unsolved problem and if that information caused the adults to come away from Plan B with a more compassionate view of the kid and a more accurate view of what’s been getting in his way. It’s working if the kid was able to tolerate listening to the adult’s concern or perspective. Plan B is working if the kid was able to participate in generating solutions, or, if he or she couldn’t, at least considered some of the solutions the adult may have suggested. It’s working if the kid was, in pondering solutions, able to take the adult’s concerns into account. Plan B is working if the two parties sorted through solutions and agreed on one. It’s working if they agreed to return to Plan B if the solution didn’t stand the test of time. It’s working if they enacted a mutually agreeable solution and monitored its effectiveness. And Plan B is most assuredly working if the two parties came away from Plan B feeling just a little better about their relationship and a little more optimistic about being able to work collaboratively to solve the problems that have been causing conflict between them. Even if you haven’t yet reached the ultimate destination on a given unsolved problem, Plan B is already working and things are already getting better. Stay with it…your ultimate destination – solving the problem durably -- is closer than it was before you started. Thanks for reading.