15 April, 2016

The 3 step strategic plan

Too many so-called strategic plans are full of warm fuzzy platitudes. Get specific!
  • Where are you going (what do you want to achieve and why)?
  • What will it look like when you get there (your market, your offer to that market, your business model, processes, organisation, etc. and why)?
  • How will you get there (what will you do and why)?
First posted 22 June 2009.

07 April, 2016

The difference between rules and principles

I’ve written before about the importance of defining your core principles, the need for them to be consistent externally and internally with your strategy, and living them through actions, not words. Don’t get me wrong - sainthood is not realistic for most of us - but on the whole, most of us aspire to live up to our principles, even if occasionally we forget ourselves.

Rules, however, are a wholly different concept. Principles are how we live; rules are technical constructs to be obeyed (or disobeyed). Too often, people try to enshrine principles as rules, or worse, suborn principles through ill-conceived, contradictory or just plain dishonest rules.

David Maister, author of 'Managing the Professional Service Firm‘, pointed me to this summary from 'How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything' by Dov Seidman:
The Problem With Rules (as opposed to Values or Principles)
  1. Rules are external: made by others
  2. We are ambivalent about rules (we like breaking them)
  3. Rules are reactive to past events
  4. Rules are both over- and under-inclusive (they are proxies, not precise)
  5. Proliferation of rules is a tax on the system
  6. Rules are typically prohibitions
  7. Rules require enforcement
  8. Rules speak to boundaries and floors, but create ceilings
  9. The only way to honor rules is to obey them exactly
  10. Too many rules breed over-reliance
First posted 3 July 2007

21 January, 2016

Constituencies of change - be prepared to rip the plaster off.

Two recent conversations about how to drive change drew me to observe that any change agent often has to deal with and manage several constituencies:
  • The early zealots: eager proponents and advocates, but they may want you to fire everyone else who doesn’t ‘get it’ straight away.
  • The nervous approvers: They need selling on the rationale, and are nervous about the change, but consultation, communication, confidence, consistency, and constancy of purpose will bring them aboard. They get very anxious when others don’t ‘get it’, and expect massive efforts to keep everyone happy.
  • The passive acceptors: They may question the rationale first, but, as the change becomes embedded, just accept it and forget about it.
  • The late converts: They fight the change tooth and nail, but as they see things start to work, they become its most ardent enthusiasts, and stop worrying about those who have yet to see the light.
  • The smart leavers: Strangely, these often understand the rationale for change, but for various reasons, it’s not for them, and they move themselves on to new jobs (where they often adopt new ways anyhow). You remain on good terms with them.
  • The bitter hangers-on: These are the ones who hate the change, and constantly bemoan it. They’ll never be converted, yet they stay on, becoming increasingly bitter and twisted, undermining everything and everyone, and constantly demanding your attention to their grievance.
It’s important to figure out which constituency someone is in, and manage them accordingly. If you’ve got a bitter hanger-on who can’t be turned into a late convert, try to turn them into a smart leaver. Otherwise, put them out of their misery - get them out as fairly, humanely and quickly as possible. The success and well-being of the team, the change and the business are more important than wasting time and energy on a cause you can’t win. It’s like removing a sticking plaster - a quick rip is less painful in the end.

First posted 28 March 2008