The Chemistry of Strategy tm Newsletter September 09, 2014

Be impatient for action, but patient for results

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"Why are we wasting our time in Dallas?" Jill, the Controller asked at the annual strategic planning meeting. "We've been at it a year and the new Dallas customers are barely covering the cost of the new office." Questions like Jill's are common during planning sessions.

People unconsciously allocate their resources to activities that yield the most immediate, tangible accomplishments  We are wired to focus on the tactical actions that generate immediate results."

This creates a challenge to implementing strategic goals that will literally change the status quo. (These goals usually don't achieve their strategic impact for three to five years.) There are two "natural" behaviors companies follow, both with negative consequences:

  1. The team grows impatient for immediate strategic results. "We've been working on building a position in that new market for over two years and the total revenue doesn't even account for 5% of sales. Let's focus on where we make our money and stop wasting our time."
  2. The team accepts excuses for a lack of short-term action and tactical results. "Rome wasn't built in a year. It takes time to produce any kind of result. Trust me ..."

Teams need to follow an implementation plan that keeps an eye on the strategic results while focusing on:

  • Reaching agreement on the next tactical steps and results,
  • Establishing unambiguous accountability for those action steps,
  • Requiring action over the tactical window of 90 days -- no excuses; and
  • Making a regular assessment of tactical results measured against the progress toward the strategic goal.

For example, consider a strategy to expand into the Southwest region to expand revenue by at least 20%. The supporting strategic goal could be to establish a viable customer base in Dallas. Action steps would be measured against obtaining sufficient Dallas-based customer commitments to cover the monthly operating costs of the Dallas office.

The team needs to be impatient to see customer contracts and initial sales while being patient with regards to the volume of sales.

Simply stated, strategic planning teams need to be impatient for tactical action and actual tactical results while remaining patient for the full strategic impact.

Create a strategic plan with your team

"“Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.” - Epictetus

A well-facilitated strategic planning process is a proven way to create and implement growth strategies.

How long have you been saying that you will 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.

John W. Myrna

is co-founder of
Myrna Associates Inc


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