35% of Companies are Unnecessarily Blindsided

Thanks to “How quickly does your organization react to challenges?” from thoughtLEADERS, we now know that 35% of companies are blindsided by the challenges that send them into emergency mode.

Poll Results

– We see challenges as they get close, then we act reasonably quickly: 46%

– We don’t see challenges until they become crises, then we react in emergency mode: 27%

– We see challenges coming way in the future and plan for them long in advance: 19%

– We don’t see challenges until it’s too late, then we go into damage control and recovery mode: 8%

That’s an incredible number! More than 1/3 of companies are expending costly resources to deal with challenges they could have addressed, had they implemented a rhythmic process of retrospect & planning. While I trust the source of the poll, practical experience tells me that number is actually underestimating the real story.

Practical Planning

What kind of strategic thinking & execution planning are you doing in your business? If you’re doing it less than quarterly, I’ll bet you’re one of the 35%’ers! Ideally, you should be doing some form of retrospect on your execution performance weekly. A simple 15-30 minute team reflection of the following 3 questions will give you all you need.

  • what’s working (& why)
  • what’s not working (& why)
  • is it still relevant (& why)

It’s important to understand the “why” of things working as well as not.

  • You magnify your success to bring you even more momentum
  • You learn from your failures (anything that doesn’t achieve / overachieve) in order to not repeat them and improve
  • You ask yourself if what you’re doing is still relevant because if you don’t, you die

I see many companies doing some form of the first 2, but very few doing the 3rd. Projects being continued & even improved upon that 3 weeks in will never delivered the promised value benefit because something in our environment has changed. Instead of retooling, adapting, or even completely killing something off in order to reallocate resources to something that’s going to deliver significant value, we continue to move forward with a project because it’s still on time & on budget. We’re walking zombies!

Wake up your zombies

I use a One Page Plan system to keep an entire organization focused on what’s important, and in our weekly retrospects, in addition to tracking our progress toward achieving our quarterly goals, we always take a quick glance at

  • opportunities to exceed plan
  • dangers to plan

That simple sense check to make sure that we’re not blindsided by something that could have been avoided is vital to an organizations success. In fact, +90% of the organizations I know of, had they had a rhythmic process to periodically sense check their initial assumptions vs. ever changing reality, could have avoided or at least minimized challenges that impacted their performance. Not to mentioned, missed opportunities that could have accelerated their performance.


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