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Organizational GPS

October 8, 2008
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When I went shopping for a new car, on my “must have” list was a Navigation system. I like to know were I am going, best route to get there and I like to have a reference point during long trips that marks my progress.

Unfortunately, most organizations hop on a car and start driving a certain direction. The only thing they know is that they are moving at a certain speed and they are going in one direction. They may speed up or change directions based on barriers or change in political climate. What’s missing is a firm Strategic Plan, a GPS system.

In the absence of a plan, maybe at least IT has a roadmap? Of course you would think that whatever IT has mapped out, it is based on where the organization wants to be at a future date. It always comes back to navigation. Having a wish list of technology initiatives without anything tied to a business case or strategic plan is the proverbial cart before the horse. However, I keep seeing this occur far too many times. How old is your Strategic Plan? Does your organization have one? Is it on a shelf collecting dust? Is there a periodic review process? How many years should a plan cover, 3, 4, 5 or more?



Pete, you raised several great points. I, too, marvel at the value of GPS. I think though that an aspect of organizational planning is that multiple vehicles need to move, with separate barriers (your well chosen word) which are also moving!

It would be great to have an 'Organizational GPS' that could accurately state where the organization really was, as well as an well-informed estimate of how long (and therefore how much money) it would take to get to desired destinations.

Per Doug Thompson's blog, measurement of current state (metaphorically true location in quantitative terms) is rarely done. Having worked with Doug, I know that current state is really an assessment across a lot of domains, including departments, workers, and readiness.

Perhaps the challenge is that the strategic plans often contain several destinations that are, metaphorically, in different distinct places, requiring something a good deal more complicated than a tactical course.  And, of course, those darn moving barriers to progress!