Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

2017 – Business Un-usual? Series 3 of 4

Last week we shared how individuals can make their 2017 resolutions more feasible. This week’s blog switches attention to the organization. Should organizations, like human beings, make new year resolutions? After all, an organization, if run well, will either have a strategic plan, business plan, or roadmap of some kind. If there are such frameworks, why should organizations get into the menacing maze of new year resolutions?

A productive, effective, and efficient 2017

A productive, effective, and efficient 2017
Credit: journalism

Well, let us take a step back and reflect once again on why resolutions are made. And like we have already shared in this blog series, as well as knowledge gained from some of your comments last week, resolutions can be made any time of year – a calendar is merely a time construct that should not bind us to resolution-making only before or on new year’s day

Organizations like humans need some kind of resolution-making framework to:

  • rekindle energies required to deliver certain initiatives
  • take corrective measures regarding dysfunctional initiatives, especially since good plans or strategy aren’t cast in stone
  • respond to emerging trends that weren’t foreseen during planning time
  • identify the opportunity to get rid of business value-chain bottlenecks – i.e. failing staff, annihilating the competitors, etc
  • push through unforeseen but required change agenda
  • re-start with a clean slate

Yes, organizations have plans, but like we have been told many times, ‘no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.’ Plans will always lose touch with reality – the cut-throat, 24/7 business operating environment creates a situation where even the best amongst organizations and leaders – are prone to making mistakes, getting forecasts and scenario analysis wrong, panicking when things go wrong, losing the best of their staff to competition or the start-up world, etc

In effect, the opportunity for organizations to make resolutions, on new year or not, is a window to recalibrate. Such opportunity, for those at the top of companies, is an exertion-buster. We all get tired at certain points of the OD. year – traditionally, like an ‘OD. Pavlov effect’, we all get tired towards the end of the year – i.e. we slow down, we review and acknowledge what has worked and not at the companies we lead and work for, and finally, we create time to take a break, reflect, re-energise ready for to start afresh in the new year

New year resolutions & company plan re-calibration:

Now that we know even at organizations resolutions are required – it is time to ask how organizations go about making resolutions. Do they do a quick and dirty review of the company multi-year plan? Convene grandee type meetings and spend days analyzing progress against the plan? Use success against staff annual performance goals as a proxy for organizational strategy realization?

The answer is all the above – however, before asking all the above questions, we need to define reflection parameters, that will allow us to ultimately assess progress against plan. The latter will help to effectively re-calibrate the plan.

Whenever we delve into matters strategic, a framework to guide the ensuing analysis and discussion needs defining. Strategy making is like setting your ‘current’ and ‘end’ bearings and determining how you move from status-quo to the intended destination. The journey between the two points needs robust planning – such plans aren’t cast in stone and will from time to time fail – what happens to get things back on track is re-calibration

Levels of organizational plan re-calibration:

Re-calibration of company plans can occur at any of the four levels below. In effect one or more of the four re-calibration levels can inform resolution making at companies:

  1. What?
    This is the identification level. The level at which companies ask if they are doing the right things – Management Guru’s like Peter Drucker refer to this as the ‘Effectiveness’ review level. When your plan appears not to steer you towards your anticipated destination, it may be the time to review the WHAT focus. Is the company doing the right things?
  2. Why?
    This is the rationale level. In identifying the What above, companies ask why they do what they do. This becomes especially relevant to businesses that have social goals. For example, the objective of the Fair Trade organization (FTO) is to ensure that producers receive prices that cover their average costs of sustainable production. If farmers working with the FTO are exposed to the excesses of the middleman, it would be time for the FTO to realize that it is no longer aligning to its core rationale and come up with resolutions to correct the status-quo
  3. How?
    This is the process level. The What and Why may be aligned, yet companies still trip at the How level. The International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) is a typical example of failure at the process level. INGO’s mostly know What they want to do plus Why they do what they do. However, many fail at the process (How) level – ‘how’ INGO’s do their work leaves a lot to be desired. A typical INGO is pretty effective (after all it knows its What and Why) but not efficient. We suspect that the INGO sector ranks high when it comes to plan re-calibration frequency. The latter is no accident – INGO’s are forced to re-calibrate multiple times to survive. For example, many have moved offices from the rich West to the poor South; even in the poor South, they have moved offices from posh downtown City locations to slum like locations; they have made staff redundant; and many others continue not to have a clue re.: what to do to get back on course. The INGO is a typical example of an organization in need of some serious resolution making at the process level
  4. When?
    This is the actualization level. The time lines within which organizations need to deliver their plans. Going back to the analogy: ‘no battle plan survives contact with the enemy,’ many companies miss deadlines and in turn, the opportunity to influence their bottom-lines. As soon as companies launch products/ services, they realize the need for re-calibration

Re-calibrating at the What and Why levels is a big-type resolution that also comes with similar risk. Re-calibrating at the How and When levels is much more ‘lite’ and one that fits well into the annual or even shorter re-calibration cycles

Is your organization re-calibrated for 2017 and moreover at the right level?


3 responses to “2017 – Business Un-usual? Series 3 of 4”

  1. Ssebo, I have been reading this again and again. I find the posts quite logical, methodical and useful. Keep them flowing.


    1. Webale kusoma buloogo Ssebo – omwaka 2017 gukuuwe byewasaaba musengwa muuna!


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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