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…)
In “Why Is Productivity So Weak? Three Theories” from The New York Times on April 28th, the author’s “depressing scenario” suggests that innovations in technology (such as a computer on every desk) and management techniques (such as outsourcing noncore functions) have been fully implemented across corporate America and will prod
uce no additional productivity improvements. While I don’t think this is entirely true, I suspect we are seeing diminishing returns. But what that means is that we are ready for the next big innovation in workplace productivity!
Corporate America is buried in time-wasting confusion. Clarity is the answer. Here are just a few examples: (more…)
There is much talk these days about the importance of adopting an abundance mentality and shedding a scarcity mentality. There is also much confusion.
I just read an article on the subject that promoted big thinking and the belief that you can always do better while also discouraging the continuation of poverty behaviors like wasting your limited time searching for discounts and clipping coupons. Unfortunately, the article was totally focused on making more money and buying more things. In my opinion, it missed the point completely. (more…)
Take a sharp right!
Think outside the box!
I get a little sick of such expressions and repeating them accomplishes little.
Want to see and think differently? Try these:
- Travel to places you’ve never been.
- Read things you don’t normally read.
- Talk to people with whom you don’t normally talk.
- Walk in someone else’s shoes, literally or figuratively.
From Cambridge, Massachusetts to San Francisco, the Uber wars are underway. Riders love the app driven service, cabbies are screaming about the competition and tax evasion, cities are losing revenue, and public safety agencies are worried about riders. As a result, status quo constituents are throwing every rule in the book at Uber in the hopes of turning the clock back. How silly is that!
This is a lousy, wasteful, and unproductive reaction to innovation. Consider for a minute the wasted time and money being spent fighting what is inevitable. We are going to use our phone apps to find lodging and rides. That’s a given. The ability of the Internet to connect buyers to non-traditional providers is also a given. Pretending this is not the case is foolish. (more…)
Part of my work with clients involves helping them see the things they do that don’t make sense. There are lots of reasons we do things we should change – legacy systems, old work-arounds, changing cultural norms, old mistakes, former employees, fear, bad decisions, face-saving, poor information, poor management, no sense of ownership or avenue to change for those aware of the problem – and it is hard to see them when they are totally ingrained in our daily work. The New York Daily News provides a great example.
The notion that all hotel rooms must be vacated at the same time makes no sense. The idea that someone lucky enough to find their room ready early can stay for almost 24 hours but someone who arrives at midnight must be out in less than half that time makes no sense. Choosing 10:00 vs. 11:00 vs. noon and imposing that arbitrary decision on your guests makes no sense. Rushing guests out when rooms will sit empty for hours, if no the coming night, makes no sense. Beefing up your cleaning staff so they can clean all rooms in one 4 – 5 hour period makes no sense. I’ve had cleaning staff knock on my door as early as 8 AM, three hours early because they are so eager to make some progress for the checkout onslaught.
What are you doing that makes no sense? What old habits or assumptions are hampering the value you provide or your ability to deliver that value predictably, reliably, and profitably?
When you hear those words, “that’s just the way we do it,” the red flags should fly. Don’t do anything just because you always have!
“I’ll answer your question at 1:35.”
With that he walked away.
The woman ahead of me, who had been waiting far too patiently while this man attended to stuff and not to her, was incredulous.
This, my friends, is a perfect example of either strategic stupidity or a lack of strategic clarity. If this is the way Delta wants customers treated, it is strategic stupidity. If it is not the way they want customers treated, it is a lack of strategic clarity.
Employees make decisions all day long that either help or hinder the company’s strategy. They aren’t robots and you can’t train for every decision (not that you couldn’t train for this one!). You can, however, communicate priorities and intentions.
If you want employees making smart decisions that support your priorities, they, and their managers who are responsible for their training, must understand your strategic priorities. They must understand that people at the counter are paying customers with needs that deserve attention, not to mention friendly, helpful attitudes.
This isn’t rocket science. There is no excuse for either strategic stupidity or a lack of strategic clarity. Need some help with either? Give me a call at 800-527-0087.
The best and most ambitious managers make things happen. I love their enthusiasm and energy. I love their eagerness to learn and improve. I applaud their great plans and accomplishments.
And then I ask about the direction of the organization. Too often it’s like pulling the plug and letting the energy, the momentum, and even the speaking volume rush down the drain. Sometimes hushed tones express concern for the organization’s future. Sometimes embarrassment or lack of confidence permeates a confused answer. Sometimes the eyeballs roll, followed by an explanation of an inept or non-existent strategic process.
These responses are indicative of two possible and extremely common conditions, both of which guarantee your best employees are wasting your resources and, very possibly, looking for a new job.
- There is no clear, viable strategic direction
- Your managers do not understand and accept the strategy and its implications
Why is that such a problem, especially when your top talent is accomplishing so much? The following diagram ought to make that clear:
The green oval represents activities that are highly important to the organization’s strategic direction and creating a prosperous future. The red oval represents activities that will have the greatest positive impact on current operational effectiveness. In very few cases will your future organization need nothing more than a more perfect and/or expanded version of your current operations in order to thrive. How relevant to your future are your current products, current customers, current markets, current employees, current processes, current sales and distribution channels, current facilities, etc.?