Ready, Aim, Fire!

I wrote my last post about project management. How you should know what your targets (due dates and milestones) are before you start firing (start development).  But the same is true in business too.

How often are decisions made focused on the now, the immediate need? It may fix what is broken, or at least the visible symptoms, but does the solution fit into the larger picture?  Will it cause other issues later?

Many times, in this tight economy, this is driven by a perceived lack of resources, but as I have posted before (in my review of Rework) when resources are scarce is the time when you need to be more creative. Not enough money to keep up your MS Exchange infrastructure?  Dump it and move to Google Apps email (Enterprise level email).  Not enough money to expand you SAN for network drives for your users?  External hard drives are cheap now.  Not enough money for your DR plan for your production site?  Move test and staging to a different location and make that your hot swap (just make sure you built the infrastructure properly).

Sometimes a disjointed strategy, or one that not all the leaders have bought into, can also cause decisions to be made that are fine for the silo’ed department, but maybe isn’t the best decision for the entire company.  I have to believe that those VPs really do think they are making the best decision for the company.  I hope it isn’t just ego getting in the way.

And, it could just be the company has grown so big, or is spread out in multiple locations that it becomes real difficult to make the “right” decision that works for the entire company.  And finally, I will admit in certain cases there isn’t one “right” decision. Sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two not super solutions and make it work.

But in general, when making large IT purchases or fixing broken business processes it is so much better for the company long term to take the time to make the right decision now.  It isn’t easy to do the leg work and do the research.  It isn’t easy to get agreement across departments.  It isn’t easy to sacrifice your political capital.  But it is so much better than creating new problems for yourself because you didn’t do the work. And it is so much better than having to un-do it later and then put in the right (better) solution.

Why does your company need a Vision?

I wrote a posting on Vision last week.  Since then I have received multiple questions asking, "Why does a company even need a Vision?"  So many of those vision / mission statements, etc are just marketing BS shoved out by an organization and they really don't mean anything. And sadly, they are correct, too many companies have shoved out marketing BS that really doesn't mean anything.  Most of the time the company doesn't align their goals and process to the Vision.  And to make matters even worse most companies don't invest enough in communicating the Vision.  So yes, I agree, if the Vision is not taken seriously, not supported, and not roll out properly then it probably really doesn't matter if your company has a Vision or not.

But a real Vision can be a wonderful thing.  Imagine actually knowing the true direction of the company.  It makes it so much easier for making decisions that align to common goals.  Especially if your company has multiple locations or is a roll up of multiple companies that have been merged.  The Vision should paint a picture of how the world should be.  It is the long term view. And the Vision should be the inspiration and the basis for strategic planning (cause a vision with out action is just words). 

Vision

What is your company's vision?  

Not it's goals.  Not tasks or to-dos.  Not "we are going to improve our margins by 3%."  Not "we're going to be a …insert the buzz word of the day… company this year."  The vision. Can you repeat the vision in a clear and concise way in 5 minutes or less so the average person understands it (no techno babble or MBA speak)?  

If you can't, why can't you?  Does your company even have a vision?

Does that bother you?