Strategic Planning - Your business - Aspirin or Vitamin?
With all the news of late on vitamins and compared to that continuously evolving on the use of vitamins, it only seems appropriate for us to talk about the difference of a vitamin or aspirin as it relates to your business.
The vitamin versus aspirin analogy is a good way to think about your business and the need to improve and/or work on are you putting a band aide on the situation or curing it, which provides and moves you in the direction of your ability to align and execute on your vision and strategies.
Vitamins are normally seen as nice to have's. A nice addition to the health of the organization, yet not necessarily providing real proven value. Isn't knowing what you have and how you are doing more important? Albeit the aspirin for providing real time diagnostic and results to your "unknown pain".
The news over the last week has been pretty clear on vitamins, particularly fish oil, and that there is no known health benefit to the pills. On the other hand aspirin as been quite clearly defined as providing health benefits for several things. What are the health benefits associated with your business - nice to have and needs?
Like anything else we do, lets set the stage by explaining what a vitamin is and thus an aspirin:
Vitamins are replaceable – and often forgettable. A package or commercial may grab your attention, causing you to buy, but often they are forgetten after a week or two.
Aspirin is really helpful for a short period of time. When you have a headache, you reach for it – but once the headache’s gone, you have no need for the medicine any longer.
When you implement, change, organize, evaluate or do anything else with your business do you take a vitamin or implement a vitamin to maybe help obtain your strategies - such as various systems for measuring results, or do you take an aspirin approach, and go for the cure and continue to change and adjust as necessary?
Most organizations take the vitamin approach, although they think they are taking on the aspirin. Is there a right answer and wrong or does a vitamin work in certain scenarios?
Vitamins are a great supplement to your business diet and can be good if fulfilling an immediate need, yet not necessarily sustaining. Very much like a very specific strategic initiative for a vertical within your business, yet not the overall business strategy. They help be stronger and sustain immediacy. They are good to have but if you don't take them you'll be okay. On the other hand, the Aspirin is taken to relieve pain - known and unknown. If you have a headache you are ripping up your medicine cabinet to find the aspirin.
An aspirin business is one that solves a known or unknown pain. It is a must have not a nice to have, even if you do not know you must have it. This is where the "what keeps you up at night" comes in to play
Vitamins are products or services which would be nice to have if the customer has any money left over after taking care of all the necessities of life. Aspirins, in contrast, are must have products or services which eliminate or reduce a serious pain in the life of a business or individual customer.
A fatal mistake made all too often is in mistaking a vitamin for an aspirin. Don't over estimate other people's need for your product or service including your employees and stockholders.
The best way to identify a pain in need of an aspirin is through first-hand knowledge of the pain itself. Think about the problems you have faced in your business. What problems would you have gladly paid to make disappear?
Bringing it home. When you do strategic planning, assuming that you do, do you take the plan and place it in the business or do you hide it away in a white binder that does not see daylight again until the next strategic planning session? Likely it is the latter. This becomes an vitamin nice to have and not a need to have. If it were an aspirin, then it should be something that you provide to everyone for the business to operate well, correctly and pain free - aligned and executing to results. This means you are all knowing and working on and toward the same strategies. Otherwise, isolation or initiatives alone are only working toward the "maybe" of what the vitamin might do and not what the aspirin will actually do - keep you all working on and toward the same things and consequently course correcting as necessary - taking more or less aspirin as needed.
We live in a day and age of instantaneous gratification and results, so why would you take a vitamin for the maybe for your business. Having the aspirin, a system and process that keeps your business healthy as a known entity is what you should be doing. Real time results and real information.
There are times that a vitamin might be okay, yet overall the aspirin will be the cure! Using the vitamin keeps you up at night, taking the aspirin allows you to sleep.
Don't take your business for granted and go for the quick fix or band aide, yet take it to the right places with your aspirin for sustainability.
Do you know if your business is in general a vitamin or aspirin? Don't you think it is time to know?