Aligning Projects With Strategic Intent
The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.
Maybe you’ve seen the classic cartoon illustration depicting the joining of two turn-of-the-century railway lines—one stretching hundreds of miles from the West and the other stretching hundreds of miles from the East. Gathered together to celebrate, civil engineers, draftsmen, and linemen from both companies eagerly anticipate the great event of joining the last 30-foot section. But as the final rails are put in place, everyone is astonished and stopped dead in their tracks to see the tracks off-kilter by a ponderous 15 feet!
The team immediately scrambles to figure out where they got derailed. The draftsmen are seen arguing over their blueprints; the engineers hastily work their slide rules and transits; and the lineman crew bosses scratch their heads in bewilderment. How in the world did this happen? The argument continues, but one truth remains: Two sets of tracks stretch into the distance as far as the eye can see—but the twain shall not meet that day.
This disastrous railroad track metaphor exemplifies the “strategic disconnect” that often happens in organizations. One set of tracks represents the Strategic Plan built by the CEO and the executive leadership team. The other set of tracks represents the projects and processes intended to support the Strategic Plan. But as the ...