I was once hired as a freelance consultant by a small business to look at their marketing with the eyes of someone far outside their cramped culture.
The CEO told me that “it’s just not working.”
I looked at the old document that was given by previous consultants she hired. The document was solid, it had all sorts of analysis and benchmark studies on the successful SaaS companies in her space with detailed examples.
She insisted that I took another stab at it.
I drew similar conclusions as the last consultant, given we had the same info to analyze.
Things aren’t working because of implementation (or the lack of thereof), not the recommendations.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but it’s rampant in many businesses I came to know over the years.
Ineffective teams are like revving a car that’s stuck in neutral — you’ll hear plenty of noise, but they are not going anywhere.
If You’re Substituting Presentations/Planning/Decision Making/Meeting for Implementation, You’re Part of the Problem
Another example is a startup that wants to get their product out door faster. They hired an executive to lead the efforts on product development. The executive decided the best course of action is for the product development team to be project-based (which made business sense given the circumstances).
He spent time teaching people about the mindset and methods needed to support the initiatives.
However, not much happened since.
Worse, though, the team was constantly complaining of feeling exhausted.
As it turned out, most projects had no ownership. People spent time going from one progress meeting and sending/reading emails associated with each project.
And they all got riled up when nothing happened in the end.
Words like “strategy” is a double-edged sword... both powerful and weak… and essential to successful business ventures and a good way to sabotage your effectiveness and efficiency.
The problem — and the solution — is in a small detail that most folks miss: execution.
“Strategy” (and “Best practices”, etc.) has been so overused and misused. It provides little value just by a simple declaration that it’s a “good strategy” , will it actually happen in their business?
Same with “best practice”. I see this a LOT in team meetings — the word gets tacked onto presentations in bold text.
But the presenter seldom explains how anyone could actually implement the best practices in a business. So the presentation almost seems like meaningless bragging.
Meet Execution — the Old Business Trend You Need to Know About
Smart folks like you know that execution sparks clarity.
If a strategy or best practice involves specific people to change their behaviors, then specific actions need to be laid out - who does what by when and how.
At the very least, create an environment for people to execute, without the fear of failure or embarrassment (no bruised egos), if they’re trying to figure things out on their own.
What’s more...in my experience, it’s far easier for a frontline individual contributor to ignore or find a 100 reasons why this new thing (be it practice/decision/process) is a bad idea and why it won’t work than doing something.
For example, if you propose an alternative way to write marketing emails, which way is likely to succeed?
Often, the guys in charge had never written a marketing email in their lives, and never intended to.
So getting involved in the actual work process keeps small business owners and startup CEOs in touch with the core of the business; because you're intimately familiar with the work , you are less likely to be taken in or misled by "smart talks".