Home > Leadership > The best-laid plans ….

The best-laid plans ….

How about the next-best instead?

Robert Burns said that “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley”

In spite of careful planning something can mess things up; in short, expect the unexpected.

I am sure poet Burns was speaking about poor Execution.

More often than not we are tripped up by our own Inertia. We have visions, create strategies to fulfill them and convert those into detailed plans and then wait for the right day to dawn.

A half-finished plan executed promptly and diligently will yield better results than one that is created with a lot of thought and then not acted upon.

Recently, I met this young entrepreneur who desperately wished to reach the “next level“.

“I have running this venture for the last 4 years and seen some success. Money is coming in. I have a team for Business Development – they are being paid excellent salaries but the results are poor. I still have to go with them to close the deal. They don’t seem capable.”

The obvious question would be, “Why pay so much for resources who can’t deliver?” But, there are bigger issues here.

I asked, “Do you have Business Objectives for the year? Does your team know what is expected off them? Have you set targets for each team-member and asked them to create a Sales Plan? How often do you review their work?”

He said, “I have a rough idea where I want to reach by the end of the year and I do ask them regularly when they would bring in business. But unless I go and meet the prospect the deal cannot be closed.”

This man is not lacking in enthusiasm. He turns up at the office bright and early and spends the day there, going out only when there are client meetings and for lunch.

The problem is that he is doing everything on his own – the Sales team just generates lead. They are not being tested.

He wished to streamline operations and train his team too. As an exploratory step a meeting was proposed for the week following the date of the chat. A few weeks have gone by now and there has been no further interaction.

It is obvious that the pain isn’t excruciating yet.

We humans usually take action only when things are on the verge of collapse – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be the favourite maxim for most of us. After all, we have forever to fix it!

Proactive isn’t a popular word. We expect Surgeons, Dentists, Pilots, Engineers, Lawyers and Chartered Accountant to be proactive, but not us.

And when trouble hits us SMACK between the eyes we wonder why!

This enthusiastic young man wasn’t playing it smart. It is likely that his team is not empowered to take decisions. He probably feels that they aren’t ready for it yet or would end up giving away too much to the clients – trust could be the issue. So the team stopped thinking and came to him for everything.

He cannot move to the “next level” without getting his house in order. If he can’t trust the team with big decisions he needs to start with limited empowerments and test them on those. Gradually, as the team matures and his confidence grows, they can be given more powers.

Only when the team is empowered to take decisions will they stop rushing to him for support. Then he won’t have to meet all clients to close deals. He still needs to get involved  in the major deals and regularly work along with the team to observe them in action – the findings can be used to coach and develop skills.

My young friend needs to get started somewhere. Even if he does not bring in external help to improve operations the least he can do are the following:

– Create a Business Plan

– Get the team to develop Sales Plans

– Review regularly and take corrective action

– Coach and train, so that they do more & reduce his workload

– Empower the team to take decisions

To avoid getting stuck at the present level he needs to put at least a second-best plan into action.

  1. August 14, 2012 at 2:12 am

    How true! We expect everyone else to be proactive except ourselves. A pinching observation indeed!

    • JayadevM
      August 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

      I hope my friend wakes up after reading this one. 🙂

      Thank you, Umashankar.

  2. Jamy
    August 14, 2012 at 6:42 am

    This is so true in the industry I’m in Jay! Another kick-ass read!

    • JayadevM
      August 14, 2012 at 8:21 am

      Hi Jamy

      Am travelling – the internet is slow – so I am going to reply to both your comments in one message.

      Thank you for reading the articles regularly – and for the support.

      You have been busy too it seems. The responses to my articles have been brief for the last few days. Look forward to some more anecdotal support in the days ahead.


  3. anish rajendran
    August 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

    awesome one sirji..

  4. August 19, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Is it only the delegation of decision making? or is it also incompetence at 2nd level which obviously will not instill confidence; either way diagnosis and antidote rests with the boss..

    • JayadevM
      August 19, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Hi Uday

      The root cause could be a multitude of things and as rightly pointed out the boss has a big role to play in bringing things back under control.

      Thank you.

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