Time For Change: A Management Manifesto


Acouple of years ago I faced the painful conclusion that too few of my clients were achieving their planning goals. I say painful because I had to at least consider my role as their planning consultant.

I concluded that it wasn’t the plan but rather the execution. But had they asked me how to implement the plans’ provisions, my advice would have been lacking. 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 weren’t getting to where we both wanted them to be.

There must be something else, and now, 2.5 years later, having read more planning and change management books than you can imagine, having talked with more management experts than have a right to exist, I believe I know what that is.

Business likes to reduce process to specific, almost scientific-sounding exacts and certitudes, and, in the case of planning, to clearly articulated vision and mission statements, goals, objectives, strategy and tactics. But once we implement them we quickly find, as Colin Powell once said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Great, so now what? All that work developing 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, who said: “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”

As it turns out the mere act of thinking through what you will do before actually doing it is extremely valuable. I don’t mean checking your daily calendar on the way to work; I’m talking about assessing 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 an additional 1 or 2 mph?

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 CE is for continually reinventing its products, should think otherwise. To maintain (regain?) momentum the business model must be reviewed and the mold occasionally broken, reinventing most if not all business practices in the process.

While the micro of that cannot be adequately described in a column, I can point you to the macro. My earlier comments notwithstanding, the “exacts and certitudes” are important: What is your “change” vision? What do you want to become, specifically? What strategy will you use to achieve this vision? What specific, measurable goals will you set that, once achieved, will signify success? What specific, detailed tactics will you use to execute your strategy?

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

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

William Matthies is CEO of Coyote Insight (www. coyoteinsight.com) and can be reached at wmatthies@coyoteinsight.com or at (714) 726-2901. Visit Business Wisdom at http://businesswisdom101.blogspot.com.


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