I’m a strong believer that you learn more from mistakes or failures than from your successes. Often, those mistakes may have been very painful experiences, but very valuable. I also think my father provided very sound advice: “Learn from your mistakes, but it’s cheaper and less painful to learn from other people’s mistakes!”
I was involved with a company that determined the wisest course of action was to increase market share. Their goal was to become the dominate entity in the industry. This particular market segment was made up of a few primary players, but dominated by three organizations. One of these dominate companies was my employer. As we discussed our plans, we reviewed the industry, talked about our ability to increase our market share through “organic” growth or through more sales of our products and determined that the quickest way for us to become dominate was to buy the competition. We set our sights on one of the competitors and approached them.
They were aggreable and we proceeded with the purchase. We put together a plan that included consolidating the two organizations and identified who would remain in specific executive positions in the consolidated organization. The plan was sound and I felt made sense. However, as we proceeded, we were forced to search for a new president to lead the company. After a long search, a replacement was hired. Unfortunately, he wasn’t involved in the creation of the original plan and he headed in another direction. We never had the opportunity to initiate our plan and the company struggled for a number of years.
From this excercise, I learned that not only do you need a plan, you need to follow the plan unless you find the plan is not working. Give your organization time to allow your plan to succeed. Our mistake was not following the plan. Have a plan, then follow it!