What does it really cost to Wing It?
Business Blue Prints
Most companies in manufacturing and construction have developed competencies with AutoCAD™ or some other Computer Aided Design system for generating plans. Smaller organizations may lack in-house CAD resources, but it’s easy to outsource and get what many of us still call Blue Prints. The term “blue print” was coined before CAD and digital plotters allowed us to generate the crisp black and white or even color plans and mechanical drawings that we use today. In the olden days when Blue Prints were actually blue, the saying “back to the old drawing board” usually referred to the painstaking process of redrawing the entire plan by hand.
Whether we are designing an interior, a high rise, a HVAC system, a manufactured component or assembly, it would be unprofessional to attempt to produce your finished product without both a blue print and a deadline for completion. Software developers use flow charts as their blue prints. Despite all that experience with effective planning, a surprising number of these companies are not as meticulous when it comes to building their businesses. They prefer to wing-it. Other organizations invest time in preparing their business blue prints only to ignore them. Some believe they have a working plan. But if you ask the rank-and-file about their role in the plan, few, if any, have a coherent response. Business blue prints either don’t exist, aren’t shared or aren’t being followed.
When I ask about the absence of a business blue print, I hear similar excuses. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Don’t have the time.
- Tried it before. It didn’t work.
- Don’t want to be accountable or tied down to a plan
- Did that when we were in the start-up phase and needed to raise money. It doesn’t apply any more.
- Don’t know how.
I shot an arrow in the air. It fell to earth, I know not where. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In either building or manufacturing, the result of an unplanned or poorly executed effort are easily understood and readily apparent. The results of an unplanned, wing-it orientated business entity are more subtle and are not as easily recognized or remedied. Are any of these traits true where you work?
10 Attributes of a Wing-It Organization
- Reactive behavior reins.
- Proactively is an afterthought
- Absence of accountability.
- Market Share Vulnerability: Visionary companies outperform their visionless rivals by a factor of 10.
- Communication conflicts are the rule rather than the exception.
- Competitive advantages evaporate.
- The evolution of a cover-your-tail culture.
- Performance reviews are frustrating or meaningless experiences frequently delayed or avoided.
- Attracting Customers becomes more challenging.
- Keeping Customers becomes more challenging.
Employees feel they’re on a rudderless ship. Some jump off (a.k.a. increased turnover) . Some never board (recruiting challenges). Those who remain are the less inspired, underachievers.
How many of these can you relate to? Might they be related to either the absence of, or the ineffective execution of your strategic plan? Are those typical excuses really valid?
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. But you’re in for a long and frustrating journey.
At the risk of sounding like Dr. Joyce Brothers or Ann Landers, those personal advise celebrities from the blue print era, here’s my suggestion for avoiding that long and frustrating journey. “Seek professional help!” Doing strategic planning on your own can be like a dentist attempting to drill his own tooth. Ouch! No wonder we make excuses. With professional help, the experience can be painless, effective and even inspiring. And, your results will be more predictable. Just Like when you’ve followed a well drawn blue print.
I do not advocate completely delegating the planning process to an outsider. Ownership of your plan is too critical. Professional help refers using an experienced facilitator to guide you through the planning process and stimulate innovation and ideas for new opportunities.