Strategy Hacks #1....Too busy?

Over the past few weeks we have collected the excuses that I hear most frequently attempting to justify non-existent or inoperable strategic plans.  Today we begin outlining treatment plans for these malignant conditions.  Make no mistake, if untreated these excuses will doom you and organization to irrelevance quicker than you can say Uber or BlockChain.


Excuse #1: Tyranny of the Now:  Everyone in leadership and senior management believes themselves to be too busy to devote any attention to strategy.  They are usually correct: they do have too many short term demands and deadlines. This is, however, an indication of poor time management and lack of effective prioritization.


1.      Ask senior leaders to diagram the chain of command in two directions from the dyad of board chair and chief staff officer.  Look for lack of clarity, overlapping decision/ action responsibilities/ repeat loops.

2.      Count the number of direct reports to each senior position.  More than six are too many for any one person to manage well.

3.      Ask each senior leader to keep a time diary for a week, all seven days from waking to lights out. Just have them note the time they began any new action.  Analyse for interruptions, time on task, balance of work and social time, what work time is devoted to.  Count the number of meetings, noting with whom and for what.  Query outcomes from each meeting.

4.      Ask each senior leader how their work over the past week contributed to organizational goals.

5.      Ask each senior leader what is their best time of day for creative work, for detailed/ focused/ careful work, for mundane/ repetitive/ housekeeping work, for interpersonal work, for exercise, for rest.

6.      Ask each senior leader to list all their upcoming deadlines.  Then ask them to diagram what has to happen to meet those deadlines.  Find out how they track both the deadlines and the components.



1.      Set up a private meeting with each leader to review results of your analysis.  Offer individualized correctives as required.

2.      If the decision/ responsibility structure is unclear or the time management/ prioritization problems universal, organize a group retreat that includes both board and senior staff.  Work on getting the structure straight first; then take on the time management issues.

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