Donate HERE to help with my webhosting expenses

Bitterroot Bugle post categories

Bitterroot Bugle archives

big picture planning

A good friend was rambling on about his latest knowledge seeking topic. He is a major fan of YouTube learning, often following a particular subject down whatever rabbit holes they lead to. He is very intelligent, retaining near-encyclopedic knowledge on an impressively wide range of topics. But he does lose focus on his own priorities from time to time.

Yesterday evening was one of those. So I brought my white board into play. I scribed and organized while he gave me his list and quantified the items there.

His list is not the subject I want to share with you. I encourage you, on the other hand, to go through the process occasionally.

White boards, chalk boards, super-sized computer displays or large sheets of paper are the key tool.

One person scribes while the rest throw their ideas at him. Do not interrupt the brainstorming to discuss the ideas until the flow slows to a stop. Return then to clarify what they mean, consolidate redundant ones, reword to make them more clear and eliminate the silly ones.

When we did this in Hewlett Packard meetings the walls would sprout 5 or 6 tear-off sheets of easel pad paper. Were my ‘team’ last night larger than one, my white board would have run out of space long before the exercise gathered the good ideas available. Allow for that before you begin.

With the list complete, select a time frame (I used 5 years), then go back through it to rate on a scale of one to a hundred your wild guess as to how likely each is to occur. Do not worry about absolute precision here. CLOSE will serve handsomely. Last night we stopped right there with his priorities clarified.

To make this process work correctly, the next step is to go back and rate them on a severity scale. If this event were to take place, how hard would it be to manage your life, your income, your community or whatever the group of you are considering.

A suggested scale would go like:
0 – no big deal – adjustment would be easy
1 – changes required, but we are equiped for them
2 – we could handle it, but need to gear up; to prepare
3 – we need to make significant changes and planning soon
4 – it would be devastating; survival would be threatened

Now multiply the probability by the severity. The product is your priority order for planning and preparing.

You may end up with something your group agrees is extremely severe and quite possible. The math places it on the list, but there is nothing you can do about it. Agreeing to a likely alien invasion would be an example of this. Say, “Oh well” and move on.


As I mentioned, this essay is not about my friend’s list in the photo above. Interestingly, his current Earth-shaking Big-Deal subject is not even on the white board.

To answer the curious and serve as an example I will describe what his entries meant.

Andrometa Takeover – The Internet (YouTube particularly) is rife with theories about alien visitation past, present and future with lots of supporting evidence and major impacts to Earth if/when they return. [ 1 X 4 = impact ranking of 4 ]

EMP – This started as “solar EMP”, but consolidated with man-made, both foreign and domestic. [ 50 X 4 = 200 ]

Jesus – As in returns, or the rapture, or other religiously predicted remake of the human condition on Earth. [ 1 X 4 = 4 ]

Earthquake – We live in the ripply part of Montana. There is nowhere on Earth safe from possible earthquakes. I separated direct hits from hits wrecking our supply lines, but he gave both a 1% chance. [ 2 x 4 = 8 ]

Yellowstone – The caldera blows. A happening predicted to cover a third of the USofA in ash, fill the entire Earth’s atmosphere with dust, ending all life on Earth for a decade or more. [ 1 X 4 = 4 ]

Nuclear War – The USofA is always at war, but he ranks the possibility it will explode into the big guns going directly at each other in the next five years as 1 in 4. [ 25 x 4 = 100 ]

Natural eco-disaster
– The Pacific Ocean ecosystem is reputedly breaking down. Plant and animal die-offs are happening suddenly world-wide air, land and sea. Weather is setting records. Crop failures are global… and so on. He figures 100% within the next five years. [ 100 x 4 = 400 ]

Revolution – Fed up with decreasing liberty, oppression, and depression inspires the peasants to attack the monarchs. He actually spit out a disgusted “Zero chance of those lazy, stupid …”, but I scribed the 3% anyway. [ 3 x 4 = 12 ]

Heart Attack – I added this to his list to represent a personal health disaster that could take any of us down at any time. For a family or group highly dependent on one or two indiduals, this or a separate subject should also cover a key player becoming incapicated. [ 5 x 4 = 20 ]

Therefore his resulting priority list looks like this:
400 – Natural eco-disaster
200 – EMP
100 – Nuclear War

Nothing else deserves attention until these are at least somewhat prepared for. All three suggest food stores, means to produce food, ways to keep it for himself and ability to exchange with others.