Unlike Internet surfing at work, gambling at work is a vice that has been around for many many years. Even with modern day management practices, we have not eliminated this troubling habit. In fact, it seems more and more leaders are playing the odds—and don’t even know it!
The truth is that leaders are making more decisions than ever and often, due to hectic schedules, lean staffs and too many initiatives, are making them with too little information. The result is that only one in four growth initiatives generates a return. That is 3:1 in Vegas terms. According to experts, over time, if you can’t win 52-54 percent of bets, stop gambling! You are losing money! That is what is happening in our companies and why so few growth plans pan out.
Here are three things you can do to increase your company’s performance when selecting and managing growth-oriented initiatives.
- Be sure they fit with a coherent and aligned strategy. Does this initiative make your organization better or different in a manner that supports its unique capabilities and long term plan? If not, consider whether it is a good investment for YOUR company. It could be a great idea but if you are trying to become best in class in customer service and this idea is all about making the company a low cost provider, you might be in conflict with your own plan, working against yourself.
- Carefully vet each idea. With time so tight it is easy to use gut instinct or experience to decide what to invest in. That is not enough. Have a defined set of criteria that represent a “hurdle” each investment must meetBEFORE you even start. I recommend to my clients that the criteria falls into four general buckets–strategic fit, customer acceptance, financial implications and resource availability. If it doesn’t meet the criteria, don’t talk your self into doing it just because your competition is.
- Determine resources required to do it well before you get going to be sure that you can reap the benefits.The number one reason growth plans fail is poor execution and the top issue is lack of sufficient resources. Our hopes were bigger than our budgets. So we start on it without enough support and are surprised when it dies a death of neglect or resource starvation. Know what you need before you start and only take on what the organization can do well. Doing one project really well is much more effective than doing four that limp along and only your organization can tell anything has changed.