Holly's Blog

10 Excuses for Not Developing Strategic Agility

no-excuses-300x225In today’s warp-speed business world, strategic agility – the ability to move fast with flexibility and focus – is no longer a competitive advantage. It’s a business imperative. If your organization can’t adapt on the run without losing sight of winning, your competition will soon be looking at you through their rear-view mirror.

Interestingly, when I talk about this concept in keynote presentations or small groups of business leaders, I always get the same response.  People nod their heads in agreement and you can see the light bulbs go on. Afterwards, many of the questions posed to me have to do with how to develop more agile organizations that can respond quickly to changing market conditions and customer needs.

Clearly, today’s business leaders understand the need to develop strategic agility. Which begs the question – why aren’t more organizations doing it?

One reason is that too many companies are focused more on maintaining “what made us successful” than on developing the flexibility required for today’s markets. But that’s only one excuse of many. Here are the top 10 excuses why more business leaders aren’t making strategic agility a high priority.

  1. We don’t have time to slow down.

On the surface, this seems like a legitimate excuse. Developing strategic agility requires forethought and planning, but we’re all running so fast who has the time to slow down and plan? The problem is, when we don’t pause to plan, we end up spending more time on “do-overs” or catching up to those who do take the time to slow down, pause, and plan ahead.

  1. Everyone here already knows what to do.

Well, yes and no. Most people know how to do their jobs.  But those jobs usually consist of getting the product or service out the door on time, not responding to changing customer needs. Don’t assume that people know how to be strategically agile.  You have to teach them – and make it part of their jobs.

  1. We all know what the goals are.

Really? If I were to walk into your business tomorrow and ask 10 people to identify the organization’s top strategic priorities, they would all answer correctly? I think not. You may have communicated the goals once or twice, but that doesn’t mean they stuck in people’s minds. Communication needs to be an ongoing process so that people never lose sight of the goals.

  1. That’s what consultants do.

Not quite. Yes, consultants can teach a process for developing strategic agility, but they can’t do it for you. As with any type of planning, it’s all about making it a priority and then following through with implementation. 

  1. It’s just theoretical.

At one time, so were quality, continuous improvement, and just-in-time delivery. These are now required just to get your foot in the door. The evidence is everywhere that today’s market leaders are those who can anticipate the future and quickly respond to the unexpected.

  1. No one else in our industry does that.

All the more reason to be the first! In fact, that’s how many market leaders become market leaders – by being the first in the industry to develop a new way of doing things. What if your competitors are already working to develop strategic agility but you don’t know it? Where will that leave you when they succeed?

  1. We’ve been doing it just fine this way for years.

All too often, success breeds complacency and over-confidence.  As a result, people focus on maintaining the status quo rather than paying attention to changes occurring beyond the four walls of the business.  Corporate graveyards are littered with tombstones engraved with the words “But we’ve always done it this way…”

  1. Our team is great; we don’t need to learn strategy.

Your team may indeed be great – with your current business model.  But what happens when some outside competitor obsoletes it? Or just gets faster, stronger and more agile? Having a great team doesn’t guarantee continued success. Just look how hard it is to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

  1. We’re successful; we don’t need to change how we do things.

Where have I heard this excuse before? Radio Shack. Kodak.  Borders. Sears. The list of former market leaders who got stuck in the past goes on and on.

  1. It’s too much work.

So is trying to forestall bankruptcy. Yes, developing strategic agility requires a lot of upfront planning and work. But once you have the skills in place, you’ll be amazed at what your organization can accomplish.

So stop making excuses, build strategic agility into your organization, then get out of the way and enjoy winning as an organization!

 

Call to action: Identify one thing you can do to make your organization more nimble and responsive to shifts in our world.

Employee Engagement 2015: Not Much Has Changed

Do you have an engaged, committed workforce?  How do you know? Here’s one way to find out. Each year, Gallup surveys a broad base of employees on this issue. They identified 12 key indicators that translate to high levels of employee engagement: I know what is expected of me at work. I have the materials […] Read more

Practice Your Way to Winning in 2015

Winning in business takes practice. Not just practicing any old thing, but practicing the right things. Far too often, however, I see organizations practicing the wrong things. For example: Conducting disorganized meetings where people arrive late, unprepared, and not focused on what’s really important Making decisions based on assumptions rather than hard data Failing to […] Read more

Stop Pretending to Be Rational at Work

At times, English can be an illogical, irrational and downright confusing language. Just look at all the homographs and heteronyms that crop up throughout the lexicon. A homograph is two or more words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. A heteronym is a homograph that is also pronounced differently. For example: Is […] Read more

Brainteasers: Play with Your Brain

I frequently write and speak about the need to pause, slow down, and focus on winning every day. With so many interruptions, distractions and lengthy to-do lists, it’s all too easy to take our eyes off the ball and lose our sense of direction. It’s also important to pause and have some fun from time […] Read more

A Pause to Say Thank You

2014 was quite the year for The Human Factor, Inc.! As usual, it included a lot of learning and adapting on our part to make sure we’re still meeting your needs and fully supporting your success.  For example, we launched the neuroprompt subscription series (https://ad934.infusionsoft.com/app/storeFront/showProductDetail?productId=86), a fun and convenient way to prompt yourself to pause […] Read more

Pause and Plan to Win in 2015

Did you blink and another year went by?  Me too.  Which means it’s time once again to climb up on my soapbox and talk about getting ready to win next year. But first, a few questions. How did 2014 go for you?  Did you and your organization achieve all that was possible?  Did you meet […] Read more

Are You Assuming Your Way Out of Business?

What do Sony, Radio Shack and Sears all have in common (besides instant brand recognition)? They’re all losing money, and lots of it. According to a recent Forbes article entitled “Wrong Assumptions Create Lousy Results,” Sony has lost money for 15 out of the last 16 quarters, and projects a loss of $2 billion this […] Read more

How Elite Leaders Win

Have you ever noticed when you buy a new car you suddenly start seeing it everywhere on the road – even if it’s not a popular model? Well, it’s happening to me, only not in relation to cars. Earlier this year, I published a blog http://morethanaminute.com/are-you-an-elite-leader about the characteristics that define elite leaders. Since then, […] Read more

The Danger of Deadlines

We all know the value of a good deadline. It helps us get focused, motivated, and sharpens our thinking, right? Not so fast. Current brain research suggests that, in most cases, deadlines do the exact opposite – creating stress and tension while limiting our thinking. Having a sense of urgency does stimulate the part of […] Read more