Organizational ADD


With all of the focus on issues facing children today toward Attention Deficit Disorder and the fact that the medical community considers this a real destructive syndrome I wanted to spend a few minutes and talk about organizations that suffer from the same syndrome. Yes organizations suffer from ADD as well…

According to the optometrist network “A child with AD/HD [ A.D.D. OR ADHD ] is usually described as having a short attention span and as being distractible. In actuality, distractibility and inattentiveness are not synonymous. Distractibility refers to the short attention span and the ease with which some children can be pulled off-task. Attention, on the other hand, is a process that has different parts. We focus (pick something on which to pay attention), we select (pick something that needs attention at that moment) and we sustain (pay attention for as long as is needed). We also resist (avoid things that remove our attention from where it needs to be), and we shift (move our attention to something else when needed).”

Many organizations suffer from the same symptoms. How many times have some of your subordinates said, “We suffer from the management of the month club?” Have we taken those comments to heart? I think we should and here is why.

Many organizations are faced with many objectives, grow sales, cut costs, be more efficient, improve quality, improve delivery, etc., etc. We have heard them all. With so many objectives and opportunities facing us today what we really need is laser focus. I had a recent potential client who was looking to add a Purchasing Director while what they really needed was something less in the procurement area and some true leadership at the manufacturing/operational level. They could not see that. My meeting with them allowed them to take all of the ideas I laid out in front of them (operational improvement) and go back and focus on what their needs really were. They did not have a strategy. So, to put someone in the director role was useless because they don’t have a leader who can develop and articulate the strategy. How would he or she be effective because they are so scattered? So the next posting I see is for a Vice President of Operations. Even though I am not engaged with that organization at this point, they were taking every little morsel I was feeding them around global sourcing, transportation efficiencies, potential acquisitions to effect both top line growth and bottom line results going back and digesting them and getting focused. That is where the issues really lie and that is where they need to focus. Look at systemic fixes for your business. Don’t start in the middle because you can’t affect real change in the middle. You must start at the top and get really focused on what is causing the business to not be as effective as it could be. Until you have developed an effective strategy all of the other activities will not yield the results you want.

Now in order for this organization to be successful they have to deploy the strategy. This is where most organizations fail. After they have obtained all of the various inputs the organization must sit down and sift through the opportunities and prioritize exactly what is important to the short term and long term success of that particular business. The important part is how they motivate and empower the organization to actually go out and execute the strategy. This is where the entire strategy can fall apart. This is where leaders in the organization need to make sure whatever actions they carry out support the short term and long term objectives of the strategy and the organization needs to understand what effect these decisions have on the strategy itself. It is easy to move back into the management of the month club at this time but laser focus is important to adhere to the plan. Focus to execute the strategy is paramount here. This is where I have seen most organizational strategies fall apart. The executive team can develop and set the strategies but the organization has to be positioned to execute and our jobs as leaders are now tested. This is why focus is key in execution. What good is a strategy that can’t be executed? The executive leaders have to support the organization developing and gaining focus otherwise we are back to Organizational ADD.

When organizational leaders do not have the proper focus they suffer from organizational ADD. They wonder why they are not effective and their leadership comes into question. They wonder why they don’t see results and exactly why change is slow to come. Developing a strategy is easy if you have the right inputs. Executing that strategy without a comprehensive game plan and flawless execution is where the proper time and support must be spent to avoid reverting back to the organizations old ways.