I was listening to a news broadcast this morning about the importance of getting an annual physical exam. The doctor discussed the need to check the routine stuff, adult vaccinations, blood tests, etc. But he also said having a conversation between patient and doctor can be the most important part of the checkup. He explained that the doctor doesn’t always know the specific questions to ask you, so it is important to have a dialogue to explore your current health. It is also important to make sure you have rapport with your doctor so you feel comfortable speaking with him about your body. So what does this have to do with business? Many executive leaders go through their daily business operations without ever having a checkup for their business strategy. Ignoring symptoms in business can be every bit as devastating to the life of an organization as it can be to your body. Following are seven things to consider during your business checkup:
- Have you reviewed your strategic plan in the past six months? (Or better yet, do you even know where the document is?)
- Have you implemented a new business process this past year without reviewing its impact on the overall strategic plan?
- Have you written an operational plan based on the strategic plan?
- If your organization was impacted negatively by the recession, have you evaluated your strategy to find ways to prevent it from happening again?
- Have you hired a business consultant in the past six months without identifying what the desired outcome is in relation to your company’s strategy?
- In the past six months, has your company maintained a status quo position in the industry?
- Is your intention for growth evident in your daily operations?
Just like a physical exam for our health, we need to understand that a regular checkup can prevent surprises and avoid costly fixes. It is usually less expensive to handle a situation proactively or at least as quickly as possible before the situation (disease) spreads. A management consultant will only be a band aid to a problem if you haven’t evaluated your organization and the direction in which you want to take it. It always amazes me that an organization can afford to spend money on multiple band aid approaches over time rather than to perform an honest checkup of the business to determine how to really fix any problems. Proactive leaders will identify the direction to take the company, document the strategy to get there, and then perform regular checkups to ensure the company doesn’t detour from the chosen direction. Don’t be an executive leader who ignored the symptoms of a problem because he didn’t want to slow down for a checkup. Ask the hard questions every six months about what path you are on. Is it where you wanted to go in the first place? A business strategy consulting company can only be effective when the organization’s leadership maintains control of the direction of the company. If you haven’t identified what your vision is for the company, now is a good time to hire a strategic facilitator to work with your organization to determine that direction by helping you ask the right questions.
The strategic plan is only as good as you allow it to be. It should be a fluid document that lives and breathes within your organization. Make sure to give it a checkup periodically. Avoid expensive procedures that only become necessary when problems are neglected for too long. You are the expert regarding the health of your organization.