Monday, September 27, 2010

Plan Your Work: The Intricacies of Strategy - Part # 1

THEME: Fall 2010 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable Report

FOCUS: Plan Your Work: The Intricacies of Strategy - Part # 1

Monday morning: September 27, 2010

Dear friends,

We were sitting in the Board Room after the meeting when the CEO turned to me and said, “We’ve lost our joint purpose. Everyone is so busy and so wrapped up in the minutia of the moment that we’ve lost our sense of direction. It is all day, every day put out fires and hurry on to the next crisis. We are disconnected from what is most important.” It was a sad and sobering moment in the organization’s journey.

C.K. Prahalad in his last article before his death called “Why Is It So Hard to Tackle the Obvious?” in the June 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review wrote, “During a corporate transformation, the forgetting curve is sometimes more important than the learning curve.” As he explained, past success creates a distinct corporate ideology. An example of this is The Toyota Way, which contains specific information about how to compete, how to measure performance, organization structure, specific ways to problem solve plus whom to reward and why. In essence, past success creates “that’s the way we do things around here.” Nevertheless, when it is time to change, leaders need to decide what to preserve and what to discard.

From my perspective, past success can at times be the enemy of strategic planning. It can blind people to current reality. They do not see the need for change, because they can not “receive” the information related to it.

Furthermore, past success leads to an unconscious translation of strategy. People do what they are doing but do not understand anymore “why” they are doing it in that specific manner. They just do it because “it works” and it is “the norm.”

Next, past success in combination with no brutal facts, using a Jim Collin’s term from his book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap. . . and Others Don't. HarperBusiness, 2001, no applicable metrics, and no regular strategic reviews does not create a strategic mindset. Instead, it creates an operational mindset of “get’er done” and “do not piss off anyone off in the process.”

Finally, past success does not create ownership; it creates habits. A habit is a collection of unconscious actions, i.e. an automatic pattern of behavior in reaction to a specific situation. When this happens, past success does not generate new strategy. It often prohibits the development of new strategy. Past success can generate constant support for status quo. In sum, past success can perpetuate tactical or technical problem solving.

This week as you prepare for the challenges of 2011, remember past success can become a source of many problems.

Have a super week,


Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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