Clarity. If you’ve ever watched a lean assembly line, you’ve seen it. Or a busy short-order cafe. The line up process of a large well-run marathon. Even a Montessori classroom where thirty pre-schoolers excitedly and respectfully pursue as many as thirty independent activities. (more…)
When I start putting too many tennis balls into the net, I know it is time to return to the basics.
- Am I keeping my head down and watching the ball leave my strings?
- Am I moving my feet and getting into position early?
- Am I bending my knees?
- Is my stroke smooth and solid from back swing to follow through?
I do the same thing whenever my business isn’t going as well as I’d like. You should do the likewise.
Even if you are just feeling frazzled and maybe a little out of control. Even if you are an employee with internal customers only. When you aren’t winning, it is time to return to the basics. (more…)
Strategies fail more often than they succeed. Occasionally it’s because they are stupid strategies. Most of the times the cause is a lack of clarity – a lack of specificity about where you are headed, how you will get there, and what must change. Consider these examples of typical failures: (more…)
Strategic planning isn’t rocket science, but that doesn’t mean most organizations do it well! Here are the most common mistakes I see:
1. You do strategic planning because the calendar tells you it is time.
Why? What does the calendar know about your business and changes in your market?
2. You haven’t done strategic planning in several years and think it would probably be a good idea because you know you are supposed to do it more often than you have been.
If you are relying on external triggers like peer pressure and calendars, you are out of touch and don’t understand the purpose of strategic planning.
I’ve watched many non-profits struggle because they have the wrong people on their boards. Even conscientious organizations with lists of criteria used to carefully recruit qualifying board members usually get it wrong.
Yes, you need diversity. At the very least, that likely means you need to consider race, gender, and age. Depending on your focus, you may need diversity of experience and socio-economic representation as well. If you are a member organization, the diversity of your board must reflect your member base or desired member base. (more…)
Strategic planning isn’t always strategic.
Why? Let me count the ways!
1. Strategic planning is usually mired in today’s circumstances.
And it stays there thanks to tools like SWOT. SWOT immerses the planners in obstacles and current perceptions. It makes opportunities no more important than strengths, weaknesses, and threats.
Your future is all about opportunity. You build strengths to take advantage of opportunities. You overcome weaknesses to take advantage of opportunities. You choose the opportunities to make the threats less relevant.
Don’t let strengths, weaknesses, and threats overpower opportunities by treating them as equals. Concentrate first and foremost on the opportunities! Focus on creating value for which customers are willing to pay!
As we enter the final quarter of the year, it’s always good to reflect on where things stand. Think about personal progress to-date, as well as business progress. Have you achieved most of your goals for the year? Grown personally? Tackled something new and exciting? Enjoyed wonderful vacations? Deepened important relationships? Celebrated life?
If not, what one thing can you still do to make this year a success? Then, what must you do differently to set yourself up for a great new year?
I can think of lots of possible answers: (more…)
I always appreciate it when big companies like Wells Fargo provide perfect, highly visible examples to prove my points.
You will make better decisions faster if you SOAR through Decisions. Unfortunately, most people skip three of the four steps. And Wells Fargo has just provided a fabulous example of skipping the fourth!
The R in SOAR stands for Risks. When you think you’ve arrived at a decision, it pays to pause to consider what might go wrong. Ask yourself or your team, what are the downsides to this alternative? I guarantee Wells Fargo skipped this step and let me show you why. (more…)
The government of the United States is unique in that it has provided stable governance and peaceful power transfers for over 200 years. Why? Because people generally trust the democratic process and the checks and balances established by our founders. The system is built on the tenets of fair process:
1. We have the ability to track what is being decided and why.
2. We know that we can participate by voting, caucusing, petitioning, demonstrating, calling our elected officials, running for office, and more.
3. We generally believe that our elected officials are fair and motivated to act in the best interests of the country.
4. We generally believe that those making the decisions represent the people who voted them into office.
5. And we know that there is always another election to throw out those who don’t measure up and there are processes that can be used to modify the system. (more…)
When I work with clients on strategy, one of my greatest responsibilities is to shift their thinking so they can look at things in new ways, step up to a higher plane, and think big. Boards of Directors and staff alike are usually too mired in today’s challenges to envision a dramatically improved future, let alone a path that gets them there. Without a shift in thinking, most strategic plans are incremental at best with the biggest changes focused on internal operations that may save money, but won’t measurably increase the organization’s ability to make a difference.
At the same time, I have to keep my clients grounded in reality. Blue-sky proponents lobby for lofty earth-saving missions without any concrete ideas about the specific products and services that will make a measurable difference. They shoot down dissenters and leave too many details for later. These grandiose plans are wrapped up in shiny binders and delivered with great pomp and circumstance.
So how do you know a sensible and strong strategy from a bad one? Today’s list is geared toward nonprofits. Stay tuned for an equivalent list for businesses. (more…)