Today, I break my original plan to do a series on performance metrics as another topic has been lingering on my mind for a few days. Not so much a topic as rather a frustration. Why does strategy get no credit when there is success, but it gets all the blame when there is failure?
It is clear by now that I am a believer in business planning for established businesses, but mostly I am a believer in establishing goals, a direction and a way to measure progress on them, in order to evaluate late surprises. My view is not necessarily a shared view. In many places, business planning is a box-ticking exercise that people need to deal with because management says so. And they go through it as fast and disconnected as they can.
As a new business-planning cycle begins, I can feel the angst already.
The rolling of the eyes as a new template goes out and the inevitable question of “why we need all this”. There were moments in the past where I thought I was not really a strategist but rather a document-producing machine. I too faced my own set planning cycles and wondered. And I too challenged the need to plan if we know what we are doing.
However, recent years have shown me the benefit of discipline and more than that, of the thought process behind it.
Thought over Paper
Who cares about what you put on paper — I really just want you to be thinking.
And it is that thought that makes a difference to the business. The CEO or head of business moment. That is worth all the rolling of the eyes I get. And what makes my passion survive.
I have seen multiple leaders getting increasingly organised about strategy, metrics and structured thought climbing through the ladders. The thinking ahead has the benefit that the drive to make it happen in the middle of multiple demands is more focused. But it also ensures that you are able to communicate — and with communication comes better coordination and, inevitably, execution.
Back to Strategy…
This turned into another monologue about business plans, which was not the intention. In fact, my biggest frustration is the lack of credit people give them. I am not talking about my own personal or career credit, though we could have another whole monologue on it. Indeed, I am frustrated by how much people don’t credit improvements to the fact that they actually have a plan.
Most times we did great with a client relationship or we positioned the books well, there is nothing to do with planning. And even though I recognise most value in the day-to-day people in the business, that is rarely sustainable value.
… and why it matters
The nature of growth we are aiming at expects much more than the day-to-day. And without giving credit to the challenge, I don’t often see people reaching their right potential. Which frustrates me.
Credit to being strategic does not mean you are not amazing at your day job. It just means you rise above it.