2014: Year of the Wishy Washy Business Strategy

I've been thinking about an article on the importance of spontaneity or perhaps indecisiveness? I'll write it when I have more time, maybe. Instead, I'll point the mic towards business. I've had a lot of contracted consulting assignments over my career, but the ones in 2014 win a unique award. I am deeming 2014 "The Year of the Wishy Washy Business. The one thing these companies had in common was they all were in a rush to avoid a decision.
I received urgent calls from referrals, past business associates, all in a different fields who "needed help ASAP." Sometimes it was me calling them. Sometimes it was the CEO or the CMO. But every time they claimed the monies were allocated in the budget. Everyone assured me they had to sign off and blessing from management, and everyone needed me to start "yesterday." But 9 times at 10 the deal fell through - not because of time or money or even won by another, but because of internal "reevaluation."
Whether it's consultant and freelance gigs, or new hires, new products and joint ventures, there was a great hesitancy this year for executives to pull the trigger. When the recession hit a few years ago, any unnecessary or new costs were shelved. Then as we crawled out and opted for cautious spending. All SOP. I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about the wishy washy executive that just can't seem to make a decision.
Some will be quick to point out that it is often budget cuts that are being disguised as reevaluation as to save face. ("The deal is off because we ran out of money," said no business ever). And yes market dynamics, unforeseen costs, etc. can alter the plan as well. But this is not the case. There is a trend to "pre-hire" or "pre-qualify" long before the company is ready. "We've but the project/job/product on the back burner." Or alternatively: "After months of negotiations and interviews looking for X, we concluded we needed Y." Really? Months? And at what cost to the company? That free ad is costing you a fortune. That acquisition potential just went elsewhere. It's beyond due diligence. It's poor planning and fear served up in a melange of meetings and RFPs.
Ultimately, it isn't the individual to blame, but the corporate strategy that handcuffs its executives into indecisiveness in fear of losing their job and makes it's assessments after setting its benchmarks. Rather than evaluation it becomes reevaluation stuck in a loop. So if after extensive interviews, you decide a sales position for example is better served in customer service, or new facility should be located in Springfield and not Seattle, then put a freeze on everything - and find a new business strategist.


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