Businesses Usually Don’t Fail by Surprise

A well established manufacturing company experiences slumping sales and severe cash flow issues. They develop a turnaround plan with three action steps. Six months later, little has been accomplished and the company is struggling for survival.

A nutritional products startup company well funded by venture capitalists has great products and an exciting marketing plan. The management teamed fails to execute the key elements of their sales and marketing strategies. The business fails, the venture capitalists lose six million dollars and the management team feels defeated.

A successful toy company is now in year four of a well thought out five year business plan. They have attempted to consistently execute the key elements of their plan, sometimes with more success than others. This management team walks their talk and implements their plans. They have made significant process; their company is growing and very profitable.

Troubled companies do not generally fail by surprise. Their ailments are known for sometime and the outcomes are predictable. Startups and growth companies do not miss their sales or profitability numbers for lack of good ideas. Established companies generally do not lose market share to upstarts because they do not have creative ideas for new products or services. Owners and management teams generally know their industry and their market and have solid ideas for growing their businesses and solving their problems. Frequently companies do not achieve their goals because they simply fail to implement the plans they have created. Do you or your company suffer from a bad case of the FTI’s?

Companies and the people within them are similar to supertankers, they can take a long time to change direction even when a new course is desired. But if you turn the wheel, the rudder will move and ship will alter its course. Similarly, action within your business will produce results.

Successful change or growth requires planning, execution, monitoring results, and making small but consistent corrections along the way. Major course corrections may be required from time to time, but not frequently if the plan is well thought out, executed and monitored. If you or your company is stuck, knows and talks about the solutions, but fails to implement them, there are unspoken or unresolved issues that are causing the blockage. If you are ready to move forward, consider asking yourself and your management team the following questions:

• Do we really agree on the root cause of our problems? Or the potential opportunity?

• Do we truly believe that the plans we have outlined are doable and realistic?

• Why are we placing our resources (time, money, people) on lower priority tasks?

• Who are we protecting in our company? Are we ignoring a performance, capability or an accountability issue?

• What sacred cows (traditions, practices, beliefs) are alive and well in our company that no longer serve us well?

These are difficult questions. The answers may be even tougher. Your company’s success depends on it. Take the risk, ask the questions and move forward. FTI’s do not have to be a part of your business culture any longer.

Want to Get Your Whole Team on the Same Page? Download “The Future of Planning and Performance Management – An Executive Briefing”.