It’s almost axiomatic – business growth requires a clear vision or goal and strategies to support it. However, a lack of clear direction continues to be one of the most common complaints I hear from the development groups of industrial business to business companies. Of course a lack of direction also means wasted innovation resources, so let me share a story about a company dealing with that issue.
I was meeting with a group of top managers from a mid-size lighting company struggling with new product programs that were severely delayed. They were being constantly interrupted with smaller opportunities and just couldn’t seem to make progress on what the team felt were the really big opportunities and threats they were facing in the market. As a result, growth had stagnated and an increasing percentage of their sales were becoming commodity driven.
Of course, that prompted me to ask about their strategy. If these new areas had been identified as important elements for success, what was the strategic level plan to address the gaps? One of the managers replied “What strategy—we don’t have one!” Another replied, “No that’s not fair, there’s a strategic plan and it’s managed by the CFO.” That’s when I knew what a big part of their problem was.