Articles tagged "Ask THE Question"
I try to notice trends in what my clients are facing. Last week presented a trend I couldn’t help but notice: Three of my clients were tired, frustrated, and struggling to please customers’ shifting and very challenging demands. My clients weren’t happy. Their team members weren’t happy. Their customers weren’t happy. No matter what my clients tried to do to please their challenging customers, it wasn’t enough. My clients’ team members were burning out. Team members were starting to quit – and leave without notice! My clients were getting desperate.
During a recent quarterly strategic plan update session, the CFO had an epiphany. We had been discussing what they, as the senior staff, had done to communicate their new vision and mission to all staff. We had also discussed what they would be doing next to work with their teams to help them understand how each team’s efforts should support the new vision. As part of that discussion, I suggested the senior staff ask themselves and their teams this question: How will this (process, initiative, project, etc.,) move our Vision and Mission – and those we serve – forward? As we discussed this question further, the CFO sat back with a somewhat stunned look on his face.
One of the questions I’m initially asked by a new strategic planning client is, “How will we know what we’re supposed to focus on with our new plan?” Well, the easy answer is, “You’ll focus on what you need to focus on,” but the more appropriate answer is, “You’ll focus on what your answers to some critical questions tell you to focus on.” Now you may be thinking, “Those sound like a couple of non-answers and they don’t sound strategic at all.”
Hmmm. Another customer just selected a competitor for their next project. That’s the third time that’s happened this quarter. Like the others, you thought you’d worked well with the customer. So why didn’t this customer choose you again? It must be the new CFO that joined their company last year. She’s probably forcing them to use new vendors. She obviously doesn’t care about maintaining successful working relationships. It’s obvious she only cares about saving money and not the value of maintaining a good working relationship. It certainly can’t be about the quality of your services. This customer’s always been happy with your services. Haven’t they?
It’s been a few months since you and your team put the finishing touches on your organization’s exciting, challenging, and let’s be honest, pretty amazing strategic plan. So what’s happened since you all high-fived one another and ‘finished’ that project? Have you moved the plan forward? Have you focused on it each day? Has it become a guide for your leadership and team actions? Or, have you already lost sight of what you and the team determined was needed to strategically move your organization to greater success?