19 08 2012

Much of what is written about and discussed with regard to strategy refers to ‘planning for success’ – but what happens next? Many businesses plan for success without contemplating the impact the success they desire might have on their business and the demands it might make on the staff they rely on…..

The success story that is British Cycling offers numerous lessons in strategic and tactical planning however twelve years ago such success was very new to the organisation and putting in place planning to accommodate the impact of the success they strived for was a new concept.

In the Atlanta Olympic Games of 1996, as hard as it might be to believe in the light of current successes, British Cycling was among the also rans. The team picked up two Bronze medals ranking them twelfth in the cycling medal table.

Four years later, their now famous planning and attention to detail had started and the upward curve of success had started. Sydney 2000 saw Britain climb to sixth in the cycling medal table with Jason Queally picking up Gold and Silver medals and young unknowns by the name of Chris Hoy  (Silver) and Bradley Wiggins (Bronze) picking up the first of their now many medals.

Of course, this success was the reward for vastly improved planning and attention to detail but while the team enjoyed success in Australia, back in the UK the impact of that success had not received the same attention to detail and the small staff at their offices nearly drowned under the tidal wave of media and public interest.

As is the way with British Cycling, and with all organisations pursuing excellence, the lesson was learned and now along with achieving success, the impact of that success is always a consideration when planning.

The impact success can have on your business is not always as obvious. Consider the membership organisation I came across that consider themself to be a success. With 3500 members they are among the largest organisations of their type in the UK and they also lead the way with the recruitment of new members; around 300 a year. And yet, membership year on year is static, they are not only recruiting 300 new members a year they are also losing 300 members a year.

The business concerned considers the ‘lost 300’ to be normal, an accepted churn rate. But closer examination showed the impact of a very successful department within the business not being considered across the business.

The sales team was well resourced and had a range of exceptional benefits to offer prospective new members. As a result they were highly effective. Meanwhile the member services team was under-resourced and struggling to keep up, failing to deliver on benefits promised as part of the sales process. The impact of success in one department had not been considered when resourcing another. The result was that for every new member recruited one was lost and, largely ignored by the Board, the organisation’s reputation among its remaining membership for delivering on promises was poor. The organisation’s poor planning was undermining its own potential for growth and its reputation.

When pursuing excellence for your business which model will you choose to follow, the one that plans for success and for the impact of that success or one which plans for a version of success limited by its capacity to recognise the impact on it of one successful department?

Continued success and increased success can be reliant on recognising and planning for the impact of success. Don’t undermine your

potential by overlooking this.

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, August 2012

Read more blogs by Jim Cowan


Twitter @cowanglobal




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: