What came first, the chicken or the egg. I would ponder questions like this all the time. One of my revelations was this, that question applies to business as it does to life. There are two groups I found; one believes the answer can be found in evolution and the other in miracles. I watched these groups working. The first group was doing research and documenting all kinds of stuff, and one day said here is an egg, and if you do this to it, a chicken will develop, and if you do this, you have an omelet. It took some time, but they had it all wrapped up in a pretty package and were selling both eggs and omelets. The other group was walking in the forest and stumbled on an egg. While deciding what to do with it, they dropped it in a frying pan and said behold; I have an omelet. They went into business selling omelets. They had no overhead and could sell at a lower price, so quickly took over the market. The other group saw this and went to work to develop a better egg and, thus, a better omelet.
OK, so no great big surprise here. What intrigued me was that this happens in business all the time. I have to ask if your business has a chicken, an egg, or an omelet. Let me continue my story for just a bit more.
One day a wise man witnessed both groups and decided to get the best of both worlds. He combined the groups and had instant chaos. The first group wanted to plan and research. They created a strategic plan and a process. They could produce the best omelets with the most efficiency. The other group just cooked omelets anyway they could. They could produce faster and cheaper, but perhaps not the best omelets. The first group said they did the most and deserved the credit for the omelet. The second group said they discovered the omelet and deserved all the credit. The wise man said you are both right and both wrong. He separated the groups, put his name on the business, and all were happy.
I have seen many small businesses like that, waiting for the wise man to appear. In my world of best business practices, that person is called the leader. The leader knows that a winning team needs both the dreamers and the doers. The strategic plan is only useful if the plan is executed. I have seen examples of all three; the group that is stuck in the planning stage, the group that is running around crashing into each other, and the high-performance team.
Ah, another puzzle to pounder. What was the missing element? Why was one team leader more successful? My answer was control. Ever hear that song the gambler? You got to know when to hold them and when to fold them! If I go back and look at the business that was the most successful, the leader learned when to give up control. That was the secret all along.
With these lessons in mind, we try to separate our business make-over projects into three phases; strategic planning, execution, and production. In the strategic planning phase, it is important to get information from all sides and to stay focused on planning. Production problems are feedback for consideration in the planning process. In the execution phase, it is important to stay on plan and focus on execution. We do not want massive changes; we want refinements and corrections. In the production phase you need to stay focused on the process and an orderly refinement of the process. In this phase we refer back to the strategic plan. So often these phases get merged. In an existing production environment, it is hard to prevent conflicts. That is where leadership and change management skills come into play.
People will resist change, jockey for position of power, and often misunderstand the plan. It is important to get everyone on the same page when you start the execution phase. Often you bring in people that were not part of the planning team. People often are threatened by change they do not understand. Often job descriptions and positions are changed. Beware of the expert that was not involved in the planning phase who says: I know how to do this, stand aside and let me get the job done. The new process will grow and improve with use.
Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on creating a strategic plan that works, contact email@example.com.