In most companies, there is no shortage of talk about strategic decisions. Considerable time and other resources (meetings, retreats, consultants, etc.) are devoted to considering strategic direction, but too often, the real intended results are delayed or not achieved due to lack of real actions.
Strategic decisions should result in clear direction and progressive action that lead to the accomplishment of specific, intended goals. However, what happens all too often is that strategic decisions are made, but they are not implemented. A year or so later, the strategic decisions are reviewed and it becomes evident that the intended progress has not happened. Disappointment is expressed – sometimes vigorously. The decisions are revisited and revised and more time is needed to accomplish the same intended results.
The cycle does not need to be that predictable and disappointing. Real progress can be made toward achieving real results – but it takes more than conversation – or even writing plans.
Let’s consider an example of Strategic Decision-making:
An increasing number of companies are needing to address succession in their leadership, and perhaps ownership. Thinking and talking about the strategic choices that need to be made is how the process starts, and a variety of options might be considered. In a privately held company, future leadership may be provided by an upcoming family member. It could also be that that a current senior management person would be the right choice, or recruiting the future leader from outside the company could be best.
A related critical factor to consider would be timing of transition for leadership or ownership. If the future leader is identified but needs mentoring, education or additional experience, specific actions and timelines can be set in motion to accomplish that on a schedule for when the leadership transition is desired.
The good news is that if the timeline is set and the actions are taken to prepare future leadership, the transition can be seamless and successful. However, the rest of the story is that without consistent follow-through, companies can find themselves facing a crisis. Good intentions get distracted by either positive (new clients, large contracts, etc.) or negative (sales reductions, personnel issues, etc.) factors – or both! The results are that when the time for transition arrives, the new leader, or the company itself, is not ready.
There are often additional unwelcome consequences with lack of action. In this example, the leaders who may have been intending to retire or change the direction of their career, are strapped. They have to extend their role beyond their expectations, which can bring with it negative impacts on the management and/or company culture.
Accomplishing the result is possible!
Having the right information, making the right strategic decisions, and following the steps necessary to accomplish the desired results is very possible, but it can – and usually does – require an external catalyst to prompt the process. A major mistake that many firms make is to use a consultant to help with the plan development, and then take the project back in house, where the busyness of ongoing activity sidetracks the implementation. It is helpful to continue working with an external, objective source as a catalyst to keep the team focused and engaged on the plan and its implementation. Otherwise, the distraction of busyness can rob you of the benefits the plan is intended to create.
Included in the variety of services provided by Price CPAs is our business consulting and strategic planning package. We are prepared to support you and your business in making strategic decisions – and help you follow through on those decisions. Call us (615-385-0686) or contact us through our website (www.pricecpas.com) to explore how our services can be of value to you today.