Category: Strategic Intent
Is that the wrong question?
You can hire an outside firm to help you. They will most likely offer you a brilliant set of short-term tactics, which, may work for awhile. They will even want to call it a strategy. I suppose it is a strategy of sorts—a short-term, action-oriented strategy.
This can feel like the perfect solution, because you have very likely already spent years rolling up your sleeves and pushing through to the next level. You may feel like, with this plan, you finally have some real help at the executive level, and you may. But I can promise you there is a far more efficient path to evolve a business. I will also promise you that to do what I suggest will make you feel like you are going backward in order to go forward; so let me explain further.
A strategy that is rooted in tactics will work within a given set of finite circumstances. Once those circumstances morph into something new, the strategy will need to be re-created rapidly.
Strategic intent and strategic objectives should guide tactics.
It has been said that we live in a culture of lies—white lies, exaggerations, misrepresentations and outright deceptions. In fact, Robert Fieldman has recently published a book that demonstrates that the most popular people are the ones who lie most often. Plus before people know each other will they tend to lie once every ten minutes. My question is: how will that effect business success or failure?
I’ve seen that lying is one of the most destructive forces in a business. One of the leading offenders is the way an organization engages in self-deception. An organization will collectively kid itself in the interest of moving forward.
Consider this scenario: You are running a company. You are likely a strong personality or you wouldn’t have had a good deal of success already. You have a new idea, and because you are a good boss with a great staff, you ask for your employees’ input. They support the major thrust of whatever you describe, raising minor objections. You head back to your office to begin an implementation plan.
Now imagine the potential reality: your employees have high mortgage payments, a kid or two, and increasing credit card debt. They also hold the belief that their next raise will be tied to being a popular “team player” so they withhold awkward but insightful criticism. Your business slowly fails because the truth will put your employees’ immediate futures at risk.
Everyone in this scenario is trying to be the good guy. But in reality, the good guy employee would risk his or her raise. The owner who’s a really good guy would demand truth and create a culture of honesty—rewarding smart, respectful, and comprehensive thinking.
On the other extreme, I’ve seen the opposite problem in a company whose motto was “challenge the process.” It’s not a bad idea, but in practice it created a culture of naysayers. If you were brave enough to agree with anything, you risked not living up to the motto. It paralyzed the organization. Large-scale projects could not get off the ground effectively because company-wide support was impossible to achieve. The motto, unfortunately, ended up creating a company-wide agreement to sustain a different sort of self-deception: “The system or ideas we have proposed cannot be right if I’m going to live up to the motto and get my next raise.”
Clearly, it takes humility, courage and, of course, honesty to find out how lying might be damaging your business.
Word of mouth used to travel pretty fast, but now it travels at the speed of the Internet. Buyers are only a few clicks away from finding out who your company really is—not who you want them to believe you are. They can quickly see how their peers rate your products and service, any press releases that unveil your values or lack thereof, and blogs that may voice opinions in detail. It’s getting more difficult to hide behind a brand image that is inauthentic. Thank goodness.
In the long run, people trust what you do rather than what you say. It’s a universal principal. “Showing” versus “telling” is powerful, and now the empowered buyer is closely watching what you do from many angles.
It’s clear the reality of doing business is changing.
What’s your plan?