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Time For Change

About 2 ½ years ago, I faced the painful conclusion that too few of my planning clients were achieving their planning goals.  I say painful because I had to at least consider my role given the fact that I was their planning consultant.  However I quickly regained my consultant equilibrium concluding that it wasn’t the plan but rather plan execution.  In other words, to the credit of consultants everywhere, don’t look at me!

Well, they didn’t but I did and was forced to face the fact that had they asked me how to execute the plan’s provisions, what I would have told them would not have been enough.  Oh, I know all the tried and true management mumbo jumbo such as “stay focused”, “get employee buy-in”, “a plan is a roadmap not a destination”, etc., but they did too and still they weren’t getting where we both wanted them to be.

There must be something else and now 2 ½ years later, having read more planning and change management books than you can imagine, having talked with more planning/change management experts than have a right to exist, I believe I know.

Business likes to reduce process to specific, almost scientific sounding exacts and certitudes, in the case of planning, clearly articulated vision and mission statements, goals, objectives, strategy, and tactics.  And then we get on with it quickly finding, as Colin Powell once said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”  Great, now what?  All that work creating a plan only to find out things won’t likely go as planned.

However, staying with the war analogy we find redemption in the quote from another great military leader, Dwight D. Eisenhower, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

As it turns out the mere act of having thought through what you will do before you actually do it, or continue to do what you’ve always done, is extremely valuable.  Do you do that?  I don’t mean thinking about that day’s activities as you drive to work, or even the week, month or balance of the year.  I mean your entire approach to business.  Do you regularly disassemble your business model looking for new ways to achieve incremental improvement, just as a race team would tear down and rebuild an otherwise functioning engine, looking for 1 or 2 more MPH improvement?

Judging by what I can see, with few exceptions and respect for all, I would guess not.  To be honest, to me CE looks to be pretty much “business as usual” minus the desired results.

Nothing is forever and no industry including one as famous as is CE for continually reinventing its products should think otherwise.  To maintain (regain?) momentum the business model must be reviewed, the mold occasionally broken, reinventing most if not all business practices in the process.

However that is still only the “motherhood” of what you must do, not the specifics, and while the micro of that cannot be adequately described in a blog post such as this, I can point you to the macro.

My earlier comments notwithstanding, the “exacts and certitudes” are important:

  1. What is your “change” vision?  What do you want to become?  (Be specific.)
  2. What strategy will you use to achieve this vision?
  3. What specific, measurable goals will you set that, once achieved, will signify success?
  4. What specific, detailed tactics will you use to execute on your strategy?

Once you have that you must then “manage for change”, understanding that change management is a related but different relation to planning management.  Without a plan, nothing will change but without change management, the plan will likely fail.

And above all, continually, consciously attempt to proactively rather than reactively, change.  Force yourself and your organization to validate or rid your business model of things that no longer (if they ever did) work, remembering as William Wordsworth said, “Habits rule the unreflecting herd.”

William Matthies is the CEO of Coyote Insight ( and can be reached at [email protected] or at 714 726-2901. Visit Business Wisdom at