If you are like most of us, building something you're proud of makes you excited to share it. But in strategy development, the enthusiasm of working hard to create brilliant new thinking can quickly fade when you get to the implementation phase. The initial optimism can turn to frustration and despair if you let it get picked apart in service to protecting the status quo. But this does not have to happen, simply don't bite.
When someone tries to take over your strategic plan to serve their own goals, I say: don’t bite.
When someone asks a question that you know will take your planning discussions down a rabbit hole and use up the allotted time. I say: don’t bite.
When a board member or external stakeholder brings up an issue from the past that the majority of your board knows is out-of-date thinking. I say: don’t bite!
This powerful disciple will keep you centered during the challenges of fitting new thinking into an existing business model, set of priorities and organizational structure. As you work with your teams to embrace new goals, plant your feet wide, breathe deeply and keep moving ahead on your new strategic direction. When you face those protecting the status quo remember: don't bite.
Let me be clear: “don’t bite” does not mean ignore.
Don't bite means, don't let your forward momentum be derailed by the voices resisting change. They may be folks that believe the plan is great, but they don't want to change and consciously or unconsciously they are working to slow or stop progress.
For the person trying to hijack your new strategic direction to serve their own needs, your tactic should be to thank the hijacker for their input and use it where it makes sense but don’t debate. This honors their thinking and later uses it where it is most helpful. Even a moderate debate can get you off track. Embrace their input, but don't try to integrate it real time.
As for the dreaded rabbit hole conversations - the once that take everyone off track, the tactic to use a "BIN list" to capture the point and return to it before the discussion ends asking the group how to address this issue. Maybe it is for another meeting, a small task group to explore, or possibly it become irrelevant given the direction you are committed to taking. I find that by quickly acknowledging the issue raised, but not letting it derail my planned discussion, 90% of the time the issue fades in importance because the strategic discussion puts it into a new light.
For the board member or external stakeholder that is working from an outdated perspective, again quickly acknowledge the comment, BIN it, and then at the end schedule time to set up a debrief discussion (aka education) with any that would like more background or context. Again, we find that the majority of times that we use the BIN list, by the end of the meeting, the issue or comment is viewed as significantly less important.
See the pattern? With each instance you don’t bite on to the possibly derailing interruption, you stay in charge of the discussion and stay on track of your planning progress.
Remember, stay committed and don’t bite!
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