Strategic Plans, Unrefrigerated Milk, and Athletes
The shelf lives of strategic plans and unrefrigerated milk, it seems nowadays, are about the same. Our high velocity, highly complex world just plain outdates plans very quickly. Success comes to the best business athletes, those who can adjust to rapidly changing dynamics. Three points about this, though. First, as President Dwight Eisenhower noted in a variant years ago, while strategic plans aren’t worth much, strategic planning is indispensable. Just as the elite athlete constantly plans, prepares, and visualizes to better prepare himself or herself for the reality he or she will confront come game time, the successful company constantly plans, prepares, and visualizes a path to organizational success through a dynamic playing field. The company that dispenses with strategic planning because it doesn’t see the value in plans is missing the point. And it’s going to hurt them. It’s the planning that matters. Second, execution of the plan, short-lived as it is – clearly articulating objectives and action steps and holding team members individually accountable – is perhaps more critical than ever. There simply isn’t time to slack. Finally, companies must realize that staffing is a whole new game. Largely gone are the days of staffing with specialists with long-term track records in a given field. Chances are they don’t have the business athleticism required to adapt to your competitive environment. Look for business athletes with a number of diverse 12-t0-24 month stints where they had quantifiable impact.