You embark down a strategic planning process, bring in a consultant, discuss the matter with your senior management team and talk to other executives in whom you usually confide. Everyone comes to the same conclusion: The strategy that provided you with past success will not work in the future. So you decide on a new strategy. It requires core competencies that you do not possess, significant financial investment, and may require a change in leadership.
The above scenario is not unusual and should be one to which the owners and all employees are willing to commit. After all, the long-term viability of the business is at stake. Unfortunately, the typical outcome is that the necessary changes do not occur, and the company, at best, holds on to mediocrity.
Decisions require commitment. Making a decision does not equal a commitment to that decision. Change is much easier to talk about than it is to execute. We have all seen this in action. We make a decision, and things start out nicely. Everyone seems to understand the reasons and is excited about a bold new future. Then reality kicks in. Inevitably, problems arise. Big problems, little problems, and problems disguised as attitudes. Ultimately, when these problems occur, we are more willing to rethink the decision rather than address the problems. In some cases, I have seen companies take years to make a decision only to break their commitment a few months later and change the decision by not executing it.
The following are some of the common reasons why this occurs:
- Overconfidence – The executive leadership overestimates their readiness to take the team forward.
- False consensus – Executive management fails to gain consensus among the leadership team. Everyone gives the nod and then maintains status quo.
- Shortsighted shortcuts – Relying inappropriately on “rules of thumb,” implicitly trusting the most readily available information, or anchoring too much on “facts” that support preconceived notions.
- Shooting from the hip – The plan to execute does not take into consideration all of the obstacles to success and/or all the necessary steps to achieve the desired outcomes.
- Poor communication – The mistaken belief that a group of smart people presented with exactly the same information will draw the same conclusions.
- Staffing – Inability to embrace and support new people, or lack of understanding of the behaviors, skills, and values required of each position to take the company forward.
- Fooling yourself about feedback – Failing to interpret the evidence from outcomes for what it really says, either because you are protecting your ego or because you are tricked by hindsight.
The bottom-line, change is hard and requires focus, a detailed and disciplined process, people development, and mental toughness. However, the most important key to your change initiative is your commitment to your decision.
Contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7213 or e-mail me at [email protected] to learn how I can help you master the concepts in this article. At Activate Group, Inc. our executive coaches help remove obstacles to success. Review our website to understand how a business coach can help you improve your business.