We see it far too often.
A business or community hires a large and ‘well-respected’ planning or consulting firm to help them decide on an objective and develop strategies that will lead to action and a result. The intentions are good in nature. But the process ends up as just another document for which resources (time, money and stakeholder capital) were diminished without any real results.
So, why does nothing happen?
Let’s Look at an Example
The following is a recent news story that appeared on our radar.
The Daily News
Economic development officials and the local commission are expected to spend the coming weeks and months determining how to implement parts, or all, of the study recommendations.
“We’ll be keeping you posted as we go through this process,” he said.
Chairman Lewis said the months-long study process was the “easy part.”
“The hard part is moving and putting the plan in place,” he said to presentation attendees. “In order for us to do that, it’s going to take all of you participating.”
NOTE: in full disclosure we’ve edited the names and title of the paper and people to protect the innocent.
The Five Most Common Barriers to Action
- A study is not a plan. A study is a process of acquiring knowledge. A plan is a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something. As shown in the article above, the two are often confused. You don’t implement studies, you implement plans. You’d complete a sewer study to understand what your capacity is and what improvements you need. You create and adopt a capital facilities plan to finance and build the improvements. The information from a study or studies should go into a plan, but a study’s recommendations can’t be your action plan.
- Action can’t be an afterthought. Implementation needs to be part of the plan, not an afterthought or separate planning process.
- Full price for a fraction of the goods. Recommendations from a consultant are just that. However, we sometimes find that a consultant has a standard format it uses. Such formats have built in biases and are more likely to produce irrelevant and in-actionable recommendations. It’s the duty of both the consultant and the client to have regular communication so that the end result represents actions the client can take. The final product shouldn’t be questioned by stakeholders as being irrelevant or inaccurate.
- Follow the steps? It’s human nature to think in a linear way. We want to do Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, etc. So the assumption is we must hire a subject matter expert to first give us a study. Then we discern the information, call in the stakeholders, discern the information some more, start to develop a plan, reconvene the stakeholders, adjust the plan, and hopefully celebrate the plan. Before we know it 12 months have passed. It’s a long and disconnected process and its easy to see why momentum is lost. Want to improve your chances of success? Bring these processes together so they are concurrent, coordinated and concise!
- It’s your birthday. . . Celebrate success. It’s a catchy slogan we see everywhere. But to keep momentum, this is critical. While its customary to make a big to-do when a plan is finalized, little usually happens after the fact. Celebrating success shouldn’t be like celebrating a leap year birthday, it needs to be a regular thing for each milestone reached.
Our company has a different approach to economic development planning and implementation. We’re confident we can help you succeed. Contact us today for a confidential conversation about your next project.