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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

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.
) and can be reached at [email protected] or at (714) 726-2901. Visit Business
Wisdom at