A series of obstacles and barriers that emerge over time can derail even the best strategic and execution plans. Finding ways to identify and remove obstacles and barriers that inhibit progress on a plan is one huge difference between good companies and great companies. In this three part series on Removing Planning Obstacles we will discuss:
- What these obstacles typically are,
- Where they come from,
- How to identify them,
- How to remove or work around them, and
- Tools that can help with planning
Types of Obstacles:
Obstacles and barriers to effectively executing a plan typically come from either Internal or External sources.
Internal Obstacles that affect a company’s ability to execute a plan include some of the following:
- Lack of awareness about the importance of the plan
- Inertia that accumulates in any company and is difficult to redirect
- The NIH Syndrome – Not Invented Here
- My way or the highway mentalities
- Turfdom – loss of power and influence
- Attitudes about change
- Entrenched ways of doing things: “we’ve always done things this way”
- Lack of initiative on the parts of people responsible for actions
- Unclear direction from owners or top managers
- Not being consulted: Surprise about how a plan will affect an individual or a department
- Financial performance
- Ownership or Shareholder priorities that change
External Obstacles that can inhibit a company from executing their plans include some of the following:
- Driving Forces that unexpectedly change, which come from:
- Societal changes
- Technology changes
- Economic changes
- Environmental changes
- Political changes
- Predetermined Elements that change, like:
- Obligations and commitments
- Customers – changes to contracts, expectations, timelines or commitments
- Markets – unexpected decline or growth in market dynamics
- Competitors – new products or services that disrupt markets and customers
- Suppliers – quality, performance, delivery or financial problems that require attention
Where Obstacles Come From
These types of obstacles come from many different sources. Many Internal obstacles can be traced back organizational challenges that a company has not addressed sufficiently during the planning process. Other internal obstacles emerge from firefighting a variety of problems that are constantly popping up. This “Firefighting” mentality is one of the biggest obstacles to planning because it has become a way of life in some companies. Companies that are continually in Firefighting mode have a very difficult time executing plans because structured execution plans conflict with this unplanned and chaotic Firefighting approach to managing the day to day affairs of the business.
However, External obstacles are an entirely different matter because for the most part they are not in the control of the company doing the planning and execution. In many cases they are unexpected, although they may be predictable. The most challenging external obstacles typically come from customers, markets and competitors. These are the types of challenges that unexpectedly change the landscape for a company and the plan they have developed.
Part Two in this series will deal with Identifying Obstacles early enough to deal with them positively and stay on track with the plan.
Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC based in Sylvania, Ohio. He specializes in Growth Strategy, Innovation and Coaching and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org visit http://bentbrookadvisors.com/ for more information on his business advisory practice.