When in your planning cycle do you wipe the slate clean?
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting through a planning session with a client management team. The team defined a new direction for its product management function. The old structure worked well during an earlier phase of the company’s growth but was now taxing very senior resources who needed to re-deploy their time. So, the team needed to build a new structure for the new phase.
It was time to wipe the slate clean and draw up a new structure.
The conversation got me thinking about the question of when to start with a clean slate.
When do you start over?
When do you fire yourself and start again?
When do you throw out the old and begin again with the new?
While I’m a big fan of the tried and true, it’s clear that “doing things the way we’ve always done them” can be antithetical to the needs of today’s strategic management environment. So, when do you know it’s time to wipe the slate clean? I’ll lay out three areas, and then leave it at that.
First might be the most obvious: You’ve kept doing what you do, and aren’t getting the results that you need. This is the old “definition of insanity:” Doing the same thing and expecting a different result. It’s probably time to wipe the slate when results just aren’t adding up.
Second is a little tougher, but it’s one we face every day: You have adequate results, but the ideal state would be so much better. Transformation in “ok” times is perhaps the most challenging. It’s probably good to pick one or two “ok” areas of your business on a periodic basis and wipe the slate clean just to test the “ok to better” opportunity.
The third is the toughest, particularly for stretched organizations: You are getting great results, but at the expense of higher use of the talent as you have it currently deployed. Ever see the organization where the most talented person does everything? Or, have you ever seen a high performing business unit whose massively talented leader can’t get a promotion because his bosses don’t want to lose the local performance? This is one of those issues. If your most talented people could be re-deployed to improve overall results, but at the expense of locally great performance, it might be time to go with a clean slate.
In a lot of organizations, this is the time of re-setting budgets for the coming year. Is it time to wipe the slate clean in your organization? Are there parts that deserve the clean slate treatment? Are you brave enough to try it?
What do you think?