Monday, September 08, 2014

Sticking with The Plan

I have been out of pocket for a few weeks, battling a serious sinus issue. But, I am back now, and ready to continue moving forward. This year has been very challenging. I completed my degree in May, so the first half of the year was dedicated to that effort. After licking my wounds for a few months, I am now ready to get back going, but it has been hard to establish clarity and priority for my goals.

Organizations often find moments in time when goal ambiguity or identity crisis is present in their situation. Some feel compelled to do something drastic about it, and make major mistakes. Others become frozen - complacent -  and eventually fall behind the competition. And the few that get through these moments, they take the time to perfect what they are doing, in order to be prepared for the next opportunity that will guide their plan.

The title of this post is Sticking with The Plan. There was a scene in The Devil Wears Prada where the boss of the main character replied "just do your job". Yes, being attentive to improving what exists, in spite of goal ambiguity, is always your job, and always part of your plan.

Mizuno is a brand that is close to my heart. They, in my opinion, have the best golf clubs ever, and I have enjoyed the quality of their golf products over the years. A while back, I decided to try out their running shoe products to help me find a good gear mix for my training. Many people have spoken highly about the running shoes, and some regarded them as one of the top five, in the ranks of New Balance, Brooks, and Asics. After a few pair, I migrated to Brooks, and now I have found the Asics brand to be the best for my running preferences.

Yesterday, I received an e-advertisement for Mizuno's top running shoe, nearly half off the regular price. It made me wonder if this was a good deal or if this was a fire sale. Ironically, my daughter convinced the family to stop by an athletic store, and I ran across this shoe line. It's their top line shoe. No one in the place recommended the shoe, in spite of the good price; their's being half off as well. To put it in simple terms, Mizuno apparently took a big risk on developing some new technology on the cushion part of the shoe. The concept failed miserably, and as the sales rep put it, this was an unfortunate game changer for the brand. Given the diversification of the Mizuno brand - golf, volleyball, etc. - their misfortune may not impact the company's survival. But, it sure has damaged their chance at being a premier running shoe. If one of the other brands known for great running products had tried this, it would have been catastrophic.

What's my point? If you find yourself among the elites, goal ambiguity and identity crisis are natural phenomena to be experienced. Your plan is to be the best, and now you are one of the best. You are close, but not there, and it can make you feel anxious to make something big happen. But, you have done something big. At this level, the differences are slight. The best among this group is based on refinement of existing processes. Anything new and different may risk everything. Just look at the risks Tiger Woods has taken to redesign his swing umpteen times, and he now struggles to complete a round of golf. The problem is not that you have failed to establish clear goals and plans. Rather, the problem centers on your perspective. It's different up there.

If you have found your organization to be in a good state of survival and prosperity, I mean one of the best in the industry, take the time to transform best to something even better. Just make sure you know what better is.