Industry News

When your annual plan goes off the rails, how does your organization react?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When your annual plan goes off the rails, how does your organization react?

  • We try desperately and in vain to make the plan happen. 13%
  • We keep the plan but accept that we'll fail. 6.3%
  • We tweak the plan and do the best that we can. 66%
  • We disregard the plan and write an entirely new one. 14.6%

Are tweaks enough? When bad things happen to good strategic and annual plans, the vast majority of you say you “tweak it and do the best you can.” You might be missing great opportunities or assuming gigantic risks with that approach. Usually when a plan goes off the rails it’s because of a massive external dislocation. Those can be opportunities to reassess everything you’re doing and plot a new course. Your competitors are reeling from those challenges, too, and while they’re taking a “tweak and hope” approach, you have a real opportunity to compete differently in a new market environment.

Press pause on the plan. Do a fundamental reassessment of your strategy given the new realities of the market. Make the changes you need to make today, and do so of your own volition rather than tweaking, hoping and waiting. Because the market will ultimately force you to change, and that’s a lot less pleasant than making the change on your own terms.


Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."