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March, 2011

Four Tips to Turn Planned Action into Desirable Consequences

Taking action in business always results in consequences. Hopefully the consequences are the desired outcome of carefully planning a strategic action or responding to the occurrence (expected or unexpected) of a business condition.

Unfortunately planned actions experience too many unintended consequences that result in crisis events, overloading key employees, stressing important customer relationships and creating operational turbulence that can threaten your carefully planned or hoped for financial performance.

So what went wrong? You planned but the results were far different than what you expected. The consequences of your actions were well beyond what you and those working for you expected. Why?

Here are four tips that will help you to improve your planning process and significantly reduce unexpected consequences.


I often find that the planning process used by many companies does not include feedback from those that will be affected - employees, customers, etc. Consequently the "idea" or plan is not well grounded on good intelligence of the circumstances that will be involved.

Unwarranted optimism is at the root of most planning error. Testing the idea generates feedback that may be contrary to what we want to hear so we limit the criticism and falsely assume that it can be accomplished.

Adequate Resources
Successfully executing a plan can be further complicated by not resourcing the action to be successful. Insuring that the right people are involved, trained and equipped with the right tools and enabled to make necessary on the spot decisions when executing the plan will significantly improve the chance of a successful outcome.

Attention to Detail
Everyone is busy and the time to crank out the detail important to the success of many operational plans is difficult for many to work into their schedules. While individuals often get personally blamed for the failure of a plan it is the leadership of the organization that needs to address this as a cultural issue. The attitude to devote the time and energy to plan details must permeate the organization.

It is not just a failure of an individual to perform but also a failure in leadership to engender the attitude that the "devil is in the details" and that all plans should receive the detail attention necessary to be successful.

Successful companies that have solid planning processes show the following characteristics.

  • All levels of the company are involved.
  • They operate on the principle that everyone is eligible to critique the plan.
  • Establish a foundation for success - training, good recruiting, specifying the correct equipment and exercising the team (people and equipment) to calibrate their capability.
  • Planning details are rigorously developed and are expected by all involved groups.
John Wooden, UCLA's winning basketball coach, was once asked the secret to his success and he replied,

"It's the little details that are vital, little things make big things happen."

Take a look at your team and see if you are working on the right actions in order to achieve successful consequences for your business. Successful planning is a daily exercise and not just an annual retreat.

Do it right and make big things happen!

Mike Brice
Phone: (206)226-1617

Executive Poll

Last month I started an Executive Poll using the LinkedIn Poll function to tap into the executive community that I communicate with. The purpose of the monthly poll is to survey on various issues facing today's executives and report back with my findings. The quality of the feedback of course is related to the level of participation that everyone invests in the polling process. I will run this for several months and see if the level of participation is sufficient to make the feedback worthwhile to report to you.

Last month's poll was looked at how various organizations determined their development needs.

Question Responses %

Formal surveys of company employees. 2 29%
MBWA - Walking by Walking Around 2 29%
Company suggestion box 1 14%
Customer feedback 2 29%
Sr. Executive retreat process 0 0%

While the total responses was low the results were interesting:

  • No one used the retreat process to decide the need for organization change.
  • All responses indicated an attitude of collecting input from others - employees (formally through surveys and informally via MBWA, open suggestion box, customer input.
  • A third of the responses said that they relied upon customer input.

I realize that the total responses was low but not insignificant given the total size of the executive community involved. I hope that this information will be of value to you in forming your process for determining organization change if you have not made this important decision.

I look forward to more of you participating in these poll's in the next few months.

Click here to participate in the March poll on Mentoring. All poll responses are confidential.

Feature Article

Leadership’s #1 Challenge: Transforming Management

by Steve Denning, Published by

This article deals with the need of business to transform itself to meet changing conditions and the lack of leaders to strengthen the creative culture of organizations. The past business practice of driving products at customers (seller driven economy) has been superceded by a customer driven market seeking value. Therefore businesses are now in a situation where they need to continually offer new value and deliver it sooner.

The vacuum in "leadership" falls upon managers to stimulate the work force into focusing on the corporate goal of delighting customers, rather than merely tweaking the supply chain and searching for efficiencies. In this new economy managers need to be leaders and leaders managers.

Management Resources
Personal Development: I wish I could tell you to just chat positive affirmations or picture your audience naked or visualize a standing ovation. The problem is that none of those things will prevent you from giving a lousy presentation, so they shouldn’t help ease your anxiety either.
How can I get over stage fright or nervousness?

Customer Development: Some clients are too important to lose. No one wants to be in this position, but a lot of us are at risk in a big way.
7 Ways to Fight for Your Most Important Clients

Company Culture: Apple's culture is as distinct as its products are groundbreaking. That's no accident; one leads to the other. It’s evident in every aspect of the company, every interaction with every employee from executive management to the salespeople in its renowned Apple stores.
10 Ways to Think Different - Inside Apple's Cult-Like Culture

Team Building: All entrepreneurs and CEOs face a similar challenge: Inspiring employees to work together. Management gurus, from Peter Drucker toTony Hsieh, have offered insights about forming collaborative work environments, but few have attempted to apply a more scientific approach to finding the key ingredient for great leadership.
The Art of Team Building

Mentor: Whether you are just starting out or running a large company, it helps to have a mentor to whom you can turn with questions large and small.
How to Find a Business Mentor

Company Survival: Bouncing back from a financial crisis, product default, or natural disaster is difficult but not impossible. Focus on fixing the problem and finding opportunities for growth.
7 Tips for Dealing With a Company Setback

Productivity: Tying your stress level to the amount of work you're getting done doesn't work in today's office environment.
Decrease Your Stress, Increase Your Output (3:36 min)

Selling Your Story: You have to tell your story the right way - "Telling and Selling Your Story."
How to Successfully Promote Your Business (4:25 min)

Personal Productivity: Spending the whole day reacting, and staying late just to catch up with your job description, doesn’t leave much time for pondering the future. What projects would you like to tackle? What challenges will your organization face three years from now? Thinking about these questions is the difference between treading water and zooming ahead. So how do you create the time to focus?
The Best Productivity Tool You’re Not Using

Take the
Executive Poll
"Rate your strategic plan process."

Read Results in Next Month's iLetter

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