- The dangers of panic decisions in business: How to avoid failure
- Why new initiatives often fail: The importance of proper planning
- The pitfalls of jumping on trends without proper research
- The cost of not addressing known variables in new initiatives: How to avoid wasted resources
- Why does it matter now?
Nothing screams pucker-factor of infinity when the boss gives the “we’re in a nose dive speech,” and then starts asking for suggestions. Why is this a diamond-out-of-coal moment? Because the person who is supposed to have a plan just indicated that they don’t have a plan. Moreover, it’s asking some of those who are responsible for the nose dive to be somehow responsible for successfully fixing it. This is the managerial equivalent of asking your child, “who ate the cookies?”
Chances are the nose dive started months ago, just as sure as it wasn’t the dog who ate the cookies. And, the second “let’s go!” is uttered, a newly minted problem was born and will become a mature issue in a matter of months, or worse, a bonafide catastrophe in a couple of years. It’s these situations that inspired my previous post, the Three Questions That Need to Be Answered For 2023. I bet you’re already asking yourself, “Why does it matter now?”
The dangers of panic decisions in business: How to avoid failure
Invariably, many of the “new” objectives are old objectives. Sometimes, they’re already part of an existing workflow. Other times, it’s based on an outdated trend. Still, other times, a new manager wants to try a recipe for success that worked under completely different circumstances. Almost all the time, it’s from a recent report, not taking into context all of the available information. When these panic decisions get made, it has no strategic direction whatsoever. And panic is a seed that grows and multiplies.
In the course of my training and consulting work, I am frequently fielding questions about a new OEM requirement, a new shiny object from a conference or 20 Group, or some other emergent situation delivered from upon high. But, when given the basic scrutiny of “who, what, when, where, and why,” it’s crickets.
Those who are charged with implementation have no clue why it’s a DEFCON 1 situation. They just know the nuclear option is suddenly on the table. Those charged with making it work often don’t even benefit from hearing it directly from the horse’s mouth. Instead, it’s filtered by one or two layers of people who also have a limited understanding.
Why new initiatives often fail: The importance of proper planning
I’ll allow the reader to stop reading here with a short answer. Of course, these reactionary initiatives fail miserably. The decision-makers did not adequately articulate the problem that needs to be solved and why it’s crucial to drop everything at all costs to put it in motion…right now. I’m looking directly at the manufacturer, corporate ownership, activist shareholders, and dangerously undertrained management. Are your people passionate about their roles to make the initiative happen?
Moreover, do your people, including managers, even have the capabilities to initiate an immediate change without learning something new? Can they afford to drop everything they’re doing at that time? If you can’t answer a confident YES to these questions, it should be a full stop until you can. Firing the little people for the sins of misguided management will never fix anything. All that is being accomplished in that situation is training your competition’s next employee.
The pitfalls of jumping on trends without proper research
If you’re still reading, I’ll give you a common example. When you hear a business owner say, “hey, we need to be on TikTok…start shooting videos today,” what’s the first thing a casual observer might think? Videos of what? Who should be shooting the videos? Does your target audience even consume TikTok videos? Who even is the target audience? What media do they actually consume? What’s the cost in lieu of productive time?
By now, you should be thinking, holy sh*t, someone should really think this through! But, monthly, a dealership is forcing staff at gunpoint to execute some dance choreography that’s way out of their league, stumbling to music they’ve never even heard before. Because TikTok.
The cost of not addressing known variables in new initiatives: How to avoid wasted resources
Almost every business is comprised of many interdependent people and processes. Because of all of these corresponding complexities, the entire microcosm of a business doesn’t turn on a dime. So, if a decision gets made that requires the sudden alteration of process, relearning of new workflows, training on technical tools, new vendors or technology enhancements, updated marketing, interdepartmental cooperation, new phone scripts, etcetera ad nauseam, how can it be successful overnight? (Hint: it won’t be.)
Any large or dramatic changes need a carefully organized plan that takes into account all of the variables a business can control, including the abilities of the employees and managers, as well as the future value of those changes. If that plan is not carefully documented, the options are to stop now or waste a tremendous amount of financial and human resources.
A new initiative cannot be implemented without a plan that addresses as many known variables to success as possible. This includes, but is not limited to:
- The affected staff
- Their managers
- The impact on existing tools and processes
- Internal and external training
- Annualized business cycle
- Opportunity mix
- Inventory levels
- Macro and micro economic factors
- Future business value (time value of money is central to capitalism)
- Why it matters to the local customer base (which 99% of the time just gets overlooked completely).
By taking the time to go through this exercise, a framework can more easily be formulated to share the vision, why it matters to the market, how to put the plan in motion, and how to communicate the benefits to the consumer. If the knee-jerk reaction comes from an article you read, a conference you’ve just attended, or your corporate overlords, you need to ask yourself if it’s actually a now-problem or something (more than likely) that can benefit from more careful planning.
Speaking of conferences, so much content is based on old problems. For instance, customer experience isn’t a now-problem. It was a 20-year-ago problem. As is total customer value. As is video. The Internet is a 25-year-old problem, as is paid and organic search. Social media is a 15-year-old problem. Human resources is a 50-year-old problem. Just because you’re just hearing about it now doesn’t mean that every single one of these things can’t wait a month for a solid solution, that is, unless laws are being broken.
Why does it matter now?
Before some grand decree is made, have a plan. If not, STOP. If you need help creating a plan, please ask. Unless there’s a court order or a police officer standing in front of you, it can wait until all the pieces of the puzzle can be properly addressed. Take all the necessary time to filter the proposed changes through the lens of your market, your clients, and the entirety of your team. Not someone else’s. Doing business in 2023 will be hard enough. Don’t let a panic reaction create a costly long-term problem.
If you missed the first post in this series, check it out here.