Organizations looking for the perfect strategy ends up shooting their foot in the process.
There is no such thing as a perfect strategy. Strategies are products of their own time and influences. It is what you make it collectively that will create the conditions for proper implementation and engagement.
There is too much time devoted to planning that as soon as the strategies are done, the tendency is to undermine it by saying the strategies aren't good enough for their standards, etc.
The real reason behind the dissatisfaction is not because the strategies aren't any good. It is because they cannot implement it in a way that justifies their actions.
Having another strategy to conform to another set of conditions is like putting monies down the drain. Unless the conditions that impede or block effective implementation are addressed, the organization is acting like the cycling hamster.
Too much effort for nothing.
Are you planning to improve your organization this year? or are you gearing up to do the same-old, same-old?
A lot of organizations these days tend to do the latter. They think that by cruising along and being more busy (than means doubling up on the amount of programs and activities), they are being strategic and effective. Effectiveness here means in my vocabulary the ability to achieve the outcomes and results they wish to seek through their efforts.
Businesses, nonprofits, and governments cruising along and wishfully thinking that they can copy past success by doing the same thing are totally misled. If there is no effort to improve and surpass past year's performance, status can keeps mean sweeping the problem under the rug delaying the resolution of some of the issues pestering the organization that will actually help the organization move forward.
Are you stalling to discuss the next direction of your organization for fear of catching more problems than anticipated? What about the changing environment where complacency doesn't do you any good?
Get out of your comfort bubble and tackle the obstacles in building a new and secure strategic direction before an overwhelming situation compels it at your own expense.
There are many ways that the customer is not always right.
They do not know what they want regarding a new product, if that product has not been out in the market yet, don’t know its functionality or how their lives can be made easier. Your FGD can’t salvage that.
They can be unruly, excessively demanding, and unfair towards service crews such as bellboys, servers, hotel clerks and cleaners, and telephone operators or customer service reps and other lower-level personnel who always, almost get the bad end of things.
They can be verbally and physically aggressive and hostile for no apparent reason and had to be dismissed either by security guards or marshals. That is game-over!
They can tell you they don’t like your products, services, offerings for whatever reason because they don’t need your product that much to look closer and spend some time investing in its usefulness. You don’t need this type of customers. Other customers want your product, services, and offerings because they deeply know that it can solve their problems. Learn how to smell which customers are serious versus who are just looking around.
They can give you insights as to what innovation you can do based on their experience of your products, but at the end of the day, it is your responsibility as the owner of the business to smell if it is the right opportunity for you.
Lastly, you can fire problematic clients and customers. You don’t want their business more than you don’t want troublesome vendors, suppliers, and other personalities that you don’t have to deal with because there are those that will gladly do business with you and take the effort to nurture the relationship.
Just because they can pay doesn’t mean that they are right for your venture as much as just because they are your neighbors doesn't mean you want to invite them for dinner and hang out with your family.
What do you think are the ways that customers aren't always right? Tell me your thoughts.
sContinuing on this essay on why strategy plans fail, I am sharing two most important reasons.
4. Focus on planning and not on implementation
Lots of monies, energies, team effort, and concentration were devoted to planning and consultations and reviews but the real work to be done does not even have a budget or people assigned to carry out proper implementation, monitoring, and performance measurement.
This happens more than regular. The initial sizzle and excitement about the plans get dissolve as time passes by and newer issues and challenge preoccupy the organization leaving the real tasks of implementation to lower-level staffers.
5. Lack of proper controls and measurements
A lot of strategy plans fall by the wayside because there are no systems set to monitor, control, and measure performance in a regular fashion. A high-level executive should set clear guidelines in terms of how the implementation will be reported, checked, controlled for slippage, delays, and inaccuracies, and measured for effectiveness and efficiencies.
There is also a need to have a regular check-in rhythms with all critical team members to provide corrective actions to lagging and ineffective performance, set up standards of excellence, and increase the confidence of implementers to report early signs of detours from original plans, and account for new realities in the environment where plans need to be tweaked here and there. This is a major part of the commitment of management to see the plans through and make it work.
I hope these give you a sense of the critical misses around strategies and how these can be avoided by creating contingencies and systems in place to avoid the common implementation and planning errors that most organizations make.
Critical strategic thinking does not end when the plans are written out and publicly acclaimed. The real test of strategic thinking is when management takes the plans and makes it work in an environment where it is easy to abandon the plans that have become obsolete as a result of changes in the operating environment. Avoiding the plans obsolescence is critical, and this shows how the management can be more intentional, strategically focused, and adaptive through the implementation and its successful wrap-up.
These and some other important questions will be discussed in my Strategy Development Workshop in Red Deer, Alberta this week.
80% of plans do not get implemented because of many reasons. Here I enumerate the top 5 obstacles to effective implementation.
•Management needs to ‘own’ the plan
A lot of organizations invest in planning but forget that the strategy is implementation. Management needs to own the plan, create contingencies when there is a major shift in external environment making the plans unworkable, and instill performance measurement at all points of the implementation. Management should consult the stakeholders concerned but the end of the day, it rests on management that knows the business from inside-out and are not afraid to take responsibility for its success or failures.
•Confused planning with strategy
When management started planning, they confuse it with strategy. Planning is done at the lower end of the organization, while setting strategy is primarily a management function. It cannot be delegated to staff or mere customers dictating how the company should be run. A decisive, informed, and well-represented management team should undertake their biggest function- which is to set the general strategic direction of the company. This biggest function is what creates the impetus for the company in the next 3-5 years aligning all resources, assets, culture, and processes to meet the goals, and forsaking other fruitless pursuits.
•INERTIA, ATROPHY, & FALL-BACK ON PAST PERFORMANCE
Organizations who are undergoing maturity or who are the in peak of their organizational or product success would have the mentality that they are invincible and unassailable. When in fact, past performance does not lead to future success. The market volatility and disruptive nature of businesses and megabrands call for adaptability and nimbleness that can prevent massive investment on futile and unproductive projects. Inertia is what prevents innovation from happening. When there is ego or greed or plain stupid management that does not listen to customers, clients, or stakeholders, it is on its way to its own demise. Take the case of Sears.
When companies become too comfortable with their success or good fortunes and don't have the predilection to move to the next level or raise the bar notch higher, the writing on the wall will be there pretty soon. If they are not afflicted enough to move to plan and manage risks, competitors that have faster sprint and stronger kick will rush in and eat their market share. Competition is not just the next vendor like your business, it is also the changing trends, mores, norms, and behaviors of society that may have a profound impact in your business.
(more on this, next time!)
I married a farmer. I have no idea about farming three years ago, but now, I can apply almost most of the farming lessons to management solutions and techniques that so-called gurus out there would envy!
1. You can’t hurry farming.
It has its seasons of planting, harvesting and in between all other supports that you do to ensure that the crops are growing healthy, not prone to diseases, pests, and other hazards.
You can’t hurry success, love, and business deals. They have their cycles and seasonality. To this end, you have to look at the long-term viability and ask yourself, will this give me a return of investment in the next 5, 10, 15 years.
2. There is no substitute for great weather.
While there are hail, storm, floods, pests, and other weather disasters that befall farming, with enough sunshine, wind, rain, harvesting is a delightful experience! My grandma has sat in a combine with my grandpa for more than 50 years until they can’t farm anymore! This is a tradition in farming communities. Young and old alike cherish this moment once a year.
You have to bring in the right amount of discipline, focus, persistence, and opportunism to every business opportunity. The batting average is 10% or less. The rest is part of growing up and being resilient to failures and momentary setbacks. Celebrate all the milestones and happy events dutifully.
3. Negative self-talk doesn’t work.
There is too much on the line when they have not completed harvest yet. Any delay could mean a rotting unproductive, unsellable yield. Farmers are stressed out to the core. Negative self-talk in a pressure cooker environment will only yield to more negativity to the already volatile and stressful situation. It drains away those precious energies you need to tackle problems with level-headedness.
Instead of negative self-talk, be positive about the situation. Leave your rose-colored glasses, be realistic, and get to Plan B, C, or D. The moment you build contingencies to your decision-making, understand the risks factors, you will feel more confident to take the next action.
4. Farming is all about inputs, not anymore!
For the last 100 years, we saw great revolutions in the agricultural sector. In the last 20 years, there are more technologies and innovation in the industry that you can imagine. Newer editions of expensive tractors, rising price of arable land, and the stringent policies on quota system have discouraged a lot of people from farming. The cost of fuel, fertilizers, and other support inputs have become cost-prohibitive. More and more farmers are grouping their farms to the community to benefit from scale and leverage pooled resources.
What are you doing in your business to adapt to a changing environment? You didn’t need horses when the tractors came along. So this is true for other industries where changing practices, technology, and priorities have shifted consumer demand to other services, products, and techniques. Is your industry being driven away by cut-throat competition, stiffer regulations, or dying consumer attention? It is time to know what is hitting you before it is too late.