The Chemistry of Strategy tm Newsletter June 01, 2012

Why you can't turn your phone off - and how it's hurting your business

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"I can't turn my telephone off during the strategic planning meeting." Only after I asked why did I fully understand the Wicket team member's dilemma.

One of Wicket's competitive advantages over its history was its very "hands-on" management style. Individual managers, from the CEO down, actively participate in the daily operation of the business. Their real-time participation has guaranteed that their judgment and expertise get applied to even mundane operational decisions.

The paradigm of hands-on management is an assumed and integral part of many of Wicket's procedures and policies. This approach depends on the timely availability of a manager to answer a question and make a decision for the procedure to proceed effectively. The requirement that managers be available 24/7 on a real-time basis is "baked in" to many of Wicket's systems.

There are negative consequences when managers are not available on a timely basis. For many processes, "timely" means immediately. Bad things happen when managers, whose participation and decisions are required, are out of reach for any reason. So of course they can't turn their phones off!

Enabling managers to take on tasks that require them to be unavailable for extended periods of time -- be it minutes, hours, or days -- requires a reengineering of the systems they are personally baked into. At every management level there are opportunities for reengineering how to apply their experience and expertise without requiring their real-time presence. Requiring real-time presence becomes a bottleneck whenever that manager isn't available to respond for any reason -- sickness, travel, vacation, critical projects or meetings.)

Reengineering a policy or procedure so that a lower-level associate can take real-time action more often -- ideally 80% or more of the time -- increases productivity, improves turnaround time, and makes it more practical for a manager to work on activities like planning that require large blocks of uninterrupted time. Twenty percent of a manager's decisions produce 80% of the impact. Reengineering systems to delegate the lower-impact 80% of decisions allows managers to focus more brain power on the most important ones. It also increases the likelihood that the manager will be able to make decisions on the remaining 20% in a timely manner.

Create a strategic plan with your team

"Management is doing things right,
leadership is doing the right things." -Peter Drucker

How long have you been saying that you are going to develop your strategic plan, but you haven't yet done so? Why? Perhaps it remains on your to-do list because it feels like a huge, laborious process and you haven't the time to spare to do it. Peak-performing companies have a clearly defined strategic plan…and it doesn't have to take long to create an effective one.

Your executive team costs you over a million dollars a year. Are you fully utilizing them? It's a waste of time and money to create a plan that they don't own and implement.

John W. Myrna

is co-founder of
Myrna Associates Inc


John Recommends

Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman

“Let’s not dismiss their business plan just because the font makes it hard to read."

“I’m in a very good mood today, and my [rational] System 2 is weaker than usual. I should be extra careful."

This is a book rich in insights on how decisions are really made and how to improve high-stakes decision-making.

It is amazing how little control we actually have over our decision-making!

Speaking Gigs

John loves to share his insights. Email him if you'd like to have him speak at your next meeting.

True or False?

"Five hundred years ago everybody thought the world was flat."



"The Myrna process is by far the most structured planning process I've been involved with.
It is great."

Rick Werner President, Independence Tube Corporation


Myrna Associates Inc.
421 Timber Creek Drive, Athens GA 30605-7027

Copyright 2012 Myrna Associates Inc.