Strategy and PlanningToo often, we hear the term "quick and dirty" when discussing a new customer, a new project, or a new idea.

The project needs to happen quickly in order to close the deal, meet the impossible deadline, or to move on to the next one.

Too many companies find themselves in the reactive mode to stay in the black.

Margaret Heffernan offers an excellent reminder about the importance of strategy to avoid landing in the “walking dead” category coined by the late Teradyne.

A walking dead organization is one which brings in just enough revenue to be self-sustaining, but isn’t on a huge growth pattern.

It can be caused by these non-strategic activities:

  • Taking on the wrong type of work. Firing a customer is one of the harder things to do, but if the business doesn’t align with the strategy, and keep you on track with your vision, it’s an important thing to do. Save your time and resources for the clients who are profitable and will help you to grow in the direction you want to grow.
  • Under-delivering. This could mean any number of things depending on the business you are in. Perhaps you rushed to bid for the project to win it. You underbid, you won it, and now you’re scrambling to meet deadlines and budget. At the same time, your resources are stretched thin and the team is focused on the next win. You are under delivering and your customer retention is plummeting.
  • Continuing vicious cycle. To keep yourself out of trouble, you find yourself in a defensive position, taking on more non-strategic work to hurry up and fill the gaps the previous activities have caused.

Heffernan suggests that walking dead companies often mistake the problem as a lack of cash, which is why it is so difficult to break out of the cycle. In fact, a step back and recalibration of the core strategy might be in order.

Austerity measures only hurt the organization further. Instead, take a step back, understand truly what business you are in and who benefits, and how they benefit. Stay focused, and deliver exceptional products and service.

Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice strategy and planning for the quick and dirty, get-it-done attitude.

This merely scratches the surface of the topic. Entire libraries are filled with content on being a strategist.

What do you think? Are stuck in the defensive position? Are you a walking dead company?