Thursday, September 17, 2009

Decisions -- and Non-Decisions -- Rule! (2/12)

Last time ("WHAT Ivory Tower?"), we talked about the multitude of customer ideas that flow in and out of conversations on a regular basis -- and then languish, unrecognized and/or unused. So, if lots of these bright new, customer-friendly ideas aren't influencing business decisions -- just what ARE they doing, where ARE they going, what IS influencing decisions in our formerly entrepreneurial firm (EF)?

Ideas are a lot like people. Once actualized, they develop lives of their own. Running here, running there, wherever they can find a willing ear to listen and an appreciative mind to endorse them, ideas move quickly.

At some stops along the journey, their will be scant interest and even less receptivity. Good as a new idea is, and as important to the customer's future needs it may be, it will fall short, with a resounding "splat" if it is poorly articulated or, worse yet, missunderstood. Nobody will even "get" it when they bump into it -- they'll just step around it!

Another idea may be so good, so compelling, so darned powerful that it will immediately be rejected (the not-invented-here syndrome coming to bear) by those who feel threatened by it. For every idea that succeeds and achieves the heights of influence, let's remember, there will be another idea that is pushed aside, unfunded and rejected. The proponents of the outcast will find it exceedingly difficult to be willing supporters of the winner.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the REALLY good (and necessary) idea may languish. Perhaps it just isn't interested in the fight, doesn't have influential supporters in the right offices, would rather look elsewhere (as in yet ANOTHER start-up firm!) for its future.

Of course, back at the EF Board Room, decisions are being taken, as they must. Programs to initiate, programs to cut, prioritizations to define, returns on investment to assess -- all the decisions are seemingly justified, notwithstanding the difficulty of defining the relationship of each with all of the others. The puzzle pieces look good individually, but will they all fit together productively in the end? Without that knowledge, is the sum of the individual decisions really a non-decision?

Part 2 of 12, by Marilyn (Lyn) Gosz, Gosz Group Technology Planners