The View From Where We Sit

We typically are approached by companies with a need in one of three areas – they want to take their business to the next level; they have an underperforming business unit or brand; or they want to take advantage of a new opportunity.
In all cases, our client either doesn’t have the necessary skill sets on their current team, or they simply don’t have someone available who has the time.  Or sometimes it’s both.

They may have an idea of what they want to accomplish, or the problem that they want solved, but don’t know how to execute it.  Or they assign an available person who lacks the required skill set(s) who, in good faith and sometimes with great enthusiasm, leads everyone in the organization down a less than optimal (and costly) path.
By doing this, these companies are settling for something less than is possible when they ask inexperienced people to make decisions that ultimately impact the entire organization.  Costly to the organization in financial terms, and possibly damaging to its brand and the morale of the team.
They may have tried to solve the issue before without success, and have concluded that there isn’t a better solution, or the plan didn’t work because there is something unusual or unique about their business.  That may be so…but it usually isn’t.  Our experience is that sound best practices have a universality that transcends the business type or market.
We have yet to find a company with a lack of good ideas!  But people who can actually get the job done are at a premium.  In fact, as we have shared in past articles, the ability to get a strategy/tactic/plan successfully implemented was the number one concern of executives surveyed last year. There are a lot of good ideas that are just never executed.  Why?  There are several reasons but the ones that Harden keeps observing is that, while they may have the right strategies, they don’t have the execution skills or resources to make it happen in a timely and effective manner.
One of the tendencies of managers is to wait too long to tackle problems that were once manageable, but have now become a serious problem.  The tendency then is to quickly start some new activity, often recycling old programs in new packages, and almost always at the expense of taking the time to think through:

• A well stated vision
• Forming a clear mission
• Developing realistic strategies for accomplishing the mission
• Creating impactful tactics, and a plan to accomplish them
• Creating logical, sequential timelines
• Gathering the resources to accomplish the tasks (internal and external)
• Getting the right people in the right places for implementation
• Executing precisely and on time and on budget
• Delivering the expected results

At Harden we consistently find one or more of these situations occurring at companies we visit with when they want to advance their business but are not realizing the desired outcomes.  If any of this sounds familiar, the items above represent a pretty good starting point.

Posted by John Harden  March 4th, 2009

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