In Action, Change, Leaders

“Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I have witnessed in public and private life, have been the consequences of action without thought.” – Bernard Beruch

I think I could edit the above quote to end “…thought without action” and it would be just as meaningful. It’s bad enough to act without thinking through the consequences and potential outcomes of that action. Unfortunately, there are too many businesses that don’t do the action at all – even though they’ve thought about what might happen.

I have occasionally over the years worked with a business leader who has run a fairly successful organization. For a long time I thought he must be a good leader who has a good plan and executes it successfully. Now I think he’s just lucky.

It turns out that this business owner’s method for planning is to think and talk about all the scenarios, then not act on any of them. The end result is that over time various options become no longer feasible, and eventually there is only one option left. Then they choose that option and talk about what great strategic planning they’ve done.

Now that particular owner is ready to retire and, as usual, nothing has actually been done to prepare. This despite the fact that the owner has been talking about retirement and succession and transition for years. Nothing was actually done. And so, the only remaining option is to sell the business to an outside third party at pretty much whatever price they’re going to dictate.

The point is this – it’s not sufficient to talk about possibilities and options and scenarios and strategy if it’s all just talk. At some point you actually have to do something. That something generally is change. And too many businesses aren’t ready for that.

Is your business ready for change? Think about the things that have to be in place. Do you as the leaders walk the talk? When you say “This is what this organization is going to do”, do you just say it? Or do you do it? Do your people understand that there is a gap between where you are NOW and WHERE you need to be, and that it’s critical to bridge that gap? Do your people understand how that change is going to benefit them?

If you can’t answer “yes” to those questions, then you have a problem. Think about what you can do to affirmatively answer those questions – and then do it. Good ideas alone won’t cut it.

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