Fighting fires in an organization can actually be fun for many leaders. There is an adrenaline rush as we jump into putting out the fire (emergency, crisis, etc.). We become the heroes for having “saved the day” and it feels good.
The problem is for many of us is that it is more fun putting out fires than preventing them. Sometimes when you do a good job of preventing fires, no one notices and there are no handshakes, “well dones” or slaps on the back. Yet an organization that is strategically focused and does a good job at preventing fires, is a much healthier organization than one constantly dealing with fires.
So learn how to prevent fires and train your people and change your culture so that preventing fires is much more valued than putting them out.
Prevent some fires today!
As leaders in ministry we have a key responsibility before the Lord to be good stewards of the mission, people and resources he has entrusted to our care. And, in my opinion, bad strategy results in poor stewardship which is irresponsibility on our part.
So many of us really don’t know how to plan and often don’t recognize poor planning. But we need to!
The book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy has some good pointers for us. One help is a list of four signs of bad strategy:
1. Fluff – gibberish or “Sunday” words masquerading as strategic concepts.
2. Failure to face the challenge – this happens the most in my opinion. It is simply our tendency to avoid the hard things, the real issues. A strategy that avoids the real issue(s) will not give you the right results.
3. Mistaking goals for strategy – I have seen and done this often. You write out a list of goals or tasks and proclaim it a strategy.
4. Bad strategic objectives – when strategic objectives fail to address critical issues or are impracticable.
Planning is an act of stewardship, so learn to plan well and learn to recognize when it is not done well.
Have a great weekend!
Yesterday we talked some about the four signs of bad strategy. Today, let’s talk about the three things that make up the “kernel” of good strategy according to Richard Rumelt in his book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy.
1. A diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge. A good diagnosis simplifies the often overwhelming complexity of reality by identifying certain aspects of the situation as critical. You are essentially asking “What’s going on here?”. It is a judgement about the meaning of a set of facts.
2. A guiding policy for dealing with the challenge. This is an overall approach chosen to cope with or overcome the obstacles identified in the diagnosis. Good guiding policies are not goals or visions or images of desirable end states. Rather, they define a method of grappling with the situation and ruling out a vast array of possible actions.
3. A set of coherent actionsthat are designed to carry out the guiding policy. These are steps that are coordinated with one another to work together in accomplishing the guiding policy. The actions within the kernel of strategy should be coherent. That is, the resource deployments, policies, and maneuvers that are undertaken should be consistent and coordinated.
The “kernel” is not the totality of the strategic plan, but it is the core. Without the kernel the plan is in trouble.
Have a blessed day today! Headed out with my boss today to meet with another organization to talk about CEO coaching – ought to be interesting!
Rumelt, Richard (2011-07-19). Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters (p. 77). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
When you hear the term “strategic planning” does it conjure up images of long meetings, thick binders, and plenty of fancy trendy words? Does it evoke feelings of frustration and boredom? And at the end, do you wonder if you really have a good strategy?
1. Fluff. Fluff is a form of gibberish masquerading as strategic concepts or arguments. It uses “Sunday” words (words that are inflated and unnecessarily abstruse) and apparently esoteric concepts to create the illusion of high-level thinking.
2. Failure to face the challenge. Bad strategy fails to recognize or define the challenge. When you cannot define the challenge, you cannot evaluate a strategy or improve it.
3. Mistaking goals for strategy. Many bad strategies are just statements of desire rather than plans for overcoming obstacles.
4. Bad strategic objectives. A strategic objective is set by a leader as a means to an end. Strategic objectives are “bad” when they fail to address critical issues or when they are impracticable.
Do you see any of these four indicators in your strategy?
This is a good book for those that are serious about strategy development.
Rumelt, Richard (2011-07-19). Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters (p. 32). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
What do you “think” about that title?
Mark goes on to quote Albert Einstein who says, “The significant problems we face in life cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
Taking time to STOP and actually think for an extended period of time is a critical leadership discipline and one of the most neglected of the leadership disciplines. It seems we live our lives reacting to our e-mail, texts, daily tasks, and etc. to the point that we are constantly living at the operational or survival level in our jobs instead of at the proactive conceptual or strategic level.
And short-sighted decisions or living produces short-sighted results.
So, consider instituting the leadership discipline of “disciplined, uninterrupted thinking” into your life. It will be hard, in fact very hard, at first, but the results will be transformational.