The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Strategic direction…

Last year, my company made a strategic change to our go-to-market approach and corresponding sales, implementation and support processes.  We made significant changes to almost all of our software programs too.

This is not a foreign phenomenon – companies implement strategic directional changes all the time, true?  And you know it’s strategic when they create a logo, a slogan, and have T-shirts made up.

As with any “strategic direction” there was a corresponding amount of “push-back” from the field.  This is also not a foreign phenomenon – pushback from the field is always a normal reaction to changes in strategic direction, especially from sales people – true again?

It always amazes me how change-adverse sales people are even though our profession is all about selling change.  But I digress.

I was one of the messengers tasked with going out to face sales teams and sell the advantages of said strategic direction.  Carrying the message from leadership to the field – fun!  I was not a member of the Corporate Staff, thankfully.  Just someone on one of the internal teams assigned to this project:

Corporate Staff:

Known in some quarters as Sea Gulls for reasons relating to their propensity to fly round the country leaving their mark wherever they have alighted. 

Norman R. Augustine

As I mentioned, there has been a degree of pushback from our constituents.  Pushback often gravitates towards the shadows of strategic initiatives; the areas not fully baked; vague issues yet to be worked out.  And vagueness in the technology field presents problems:

Golub’s Laws of Computerdom

Fuzzy project objectives are used to avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.

A carelessly planned project takes three times longer to complete than expected; if carefully planned, it will take only twice as long.

Project teams detest weekly progress reporting because it so vividly manifests their lack of progress.

We’ve all been there – leadership decides on a strategic direction and a project team is assembled to covey the tactical meaning and daily impacts to the field.  In 2017, I was one of those project team someones.  Hooray!

In 2018 we are continuing our strategic direction.  Our team has done a pretty good job with pretty good support in the deployment of these strategic changes.  But it seems that in every meeting, someone from the field stumps us with a question about the process and the changes that puts in that uncomfortable, “I have no clue what they were thinking” position.

When we are put on the defensive we can’t always defend or even explain our Corporate Staff beyond Woltman’s view:

Woltman’s Law

Never program and drink beer at the same time.

I think it will be OK though.  Strategic changes are often complicated; take a while to work out the vagaries; hard to convince everyone.  And given the complexity of this roll-out I feel we have faced the field as well as possible.

That is until we’re facing said field and someone raises an issue we weren’t prepared for.  Then, if we’re not careful; even with our pretty good efforts; we run the risk of making things worse:

Anderson’s Law

Any system or problem, however complicated, if looked at in exactly the right way, will become even more complicated.

So, if your company is making a substantial change and you’re involved with articulating the message behind the new, strategic direction to the field, don’t panic.  Just hide the keg in the programming department and plan your travel so you don’t follow behind the Corporate Staff.


Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too:

Tags: ,

One Comment

  1. Ken Sawyer
    Mar 06, 2018

    Gary, best line ever….

    “And you know it’s strategic when they create a logo, a slogan, and have T-shirts made up.”

    Spot on !!! How true.

Leave a Reply