Headless chicken syndrome?
Cut off a chicken’s head and apparently it will run around for a while, at great speed but randomly as though pulled in many different directions, getting nowhere fast. Running a business can be like that. Sales are down so we must change our marketing strategy. Margins have fallen, so we must make our operations more efficient and cut costs. There’s a new market opportunity so we must quickly develop and launch a new product before the competition. New legislation is being introduced which affects our industry, so we must change the way we do things. Staff are leaving us so we must adopt new personnel practices. So many things to think about, and none of them seem to relate to any other. Concentrate on any one of these and it seems to pull us in a different direction to that of the last one. And so, all the time the business seems to be going nowhere while all our time is spent “fire fighting”. Nightmare! How can we gain control?
Imagine a situation where you have all these issues focussed through a set of co-ordinated strategies. An operational strategy that relates to your marketing strategy delivering products to a specification and a cost that your customers want to buy. Staff motivated by a common vision, committed to helping you achieve overall success for the business and helping you deal with the different issues. No nasty financial surprises. You feel properly in control.
Well no, this need not be just a dream. Sound business planning can bring about such a situation where you are in control of the business with every aspect of it pulling in the same direction. The thing is, when you are caught-up all the time fire fighting, the idea of taking some time out, stepping back from the day to day problems and spending some time on “planning” seems ludicrous. As it has been said, “When you are fighting off the alligators, it’s hard to remember you’re trying to drain the swamp.” That is why it is worth bringing in a fresh pair of eyes to help you do such a seemingly ridiculous thing. It may well be the only way to stop yourself running around like a headless chicken!
Contributed by Roger Hetherington, BPS Cambridge