Archive

Archive for November, 2012

The telling question!

I read a discussion a while back in a LinkedIn group that asked “When would projects or programs be strategically aligned?”  The question seemed so bizarre to me that I clicked through to read the full discussion.  The detail didn’t explain the question much further, but it seemed that the writer was indeed asking that question (I thought he might have missed out the word “not” after ‘programs’!!)

Talk about asking a telling question!  If any of my clients asked me this, I’d be seriously worried about firstly, how they spent their time, and secondly, whether I should be spending my time and energy working with them.  It’s very enlightening when someone asks a question that so clearly should only ever be asked in the reverse.

If he had put the ‘not’ in there after programs, that would make sense.  It would show that he understood that projects and programs should always be strategically aligned, but was wondering if there was ever a time they wouldn’t be.  In other words, ‘I understand the rule, but is there ever an exception?’  And likely there are one or two exceptions.

But he asked it the other way, as if the rule was the reverse – the rule is that projects and programs are not required to be strategically aligned, so is there ever an exception when they should be aligned?  So presumably in his organization, there is little or no link between the strategy, and the projects that are undertaken – no link between strategy and implementation.  Therefore people are busy implementing something other than strategic priorities.  Hmmmm…..

It’s often the way in which questions are asked that indicate common practice in an organization.  If culture, practices and processes do not require people to think about strategy, and align their decisions and priorities with the strategies, then that culture will not encourage strategic thinking, nor be successful in implementing strategies and achieving long term goals.

What types of questions do people in your organization ask about priorities, decisions and projects – and what does that indicate about strategic thinking in your organization’s culture?

The Devil is still lurking…

I just had one of those evenings – you know, when everything goes wrong. Not badly wrong, just enough to waste time and energy, and be really irritating.  It all happened because I got into the detail.  I used to work with a manager, autocratic type, and I didn’t agree with much of what he said except this – “the devil’s in the detail”.   It was one of his favorite expressions and I have to agree.  Perhaps that’s what I love about strategic thinking – not too much detail!  But of course, sooner or later you have to implement and that means – detail.

Tonight I was attempting to use a new software that’s been recommended to me.  There is some strategic benefit to this.  It will help me offer more services on-line.  If  it works.  All was going well when suddenly one of the key functions shut down for no apparent reason.  Just at that moment domestic issues surfaced and I had to run off and sort those out.  When I got back that function had returned but another had gone.  And it wasn’t quite doing what I had expected overall.  What I had thought would be a 15 minute quick trial has turned into a couple of hours.  Why is technology like that?  It’s supposed to speed things up but too often it takes way too long to figure out.  Or maybe I’m a technophobe, but I don’t think so.  I quite like new tools and software – but only if they do what I need them to.

So now I guess I’ll have to go and read all the tutorials or watch the video versions.  Video takes longer, I can skim the text, so I’ll start there.  Hopefully it’s just some little detail that’s messed things up.  The strategy is still  on track – delivering more on-line.  That detail devil is doing its best to send the strategy off-track but I won’t be beaten.  Last resort – read the instructions!

How to achieve your long term goals – according to the cat!

I met a friend for coffee the other week and she told me an amazing, funny story. When her children were teenagers their neighbours got a cat. The cat took a liking to my friend’s daughter, but even more, to their house. Now unfortunately for Puss, my friend did not like cats so had no intention of letting the cat into her house.

The cat tried really hard to get in. He even attempted a drop-in from the skylight above, but all to no avail. My friend was not letting the cat in, no matter how much he wanted to be in. A few years on, my friend’s daughter got married and moved to the other side of town. The neighbours asked if she would like to take their cat, given he was clearly fond of her and she of him. She agreed and Puss moved to her new home. But a few months later, my friend decided to move and sold her house to her daughter and her new husband. So guess who finally got to move into the house? – yes, the cat!

The moral of the story is this. You never quite know how things are going to unfold, so that your goals are achieved. Sometimes you have to be persistent. Sometimes you have to wait a while. Sometimes it seems quite hopeless and you seem further away from your goal than ever. But hang in there – keep focused on important goals and don’t give up. Sometimes things work in very roundabout ways and suddenly – your goal is achieved!

Jenni Murphy-Scanlon is an author, consultant and trainer specialising in strategic thinking and leadership. She offers you a free report on ‘How to Think Strategically’ at her website – http://www.strategies-direct.com

%d bloggers like this: