There is always a time gap between deciding to act and the benefits of the actions…
In the wake of the Veterans Affairs scandal, uncovered at the beginning of the summer, we have seen the departure of the Secretary, the appointment of a replacement and the passage and signing of the Veterans Access Choice and Accountability Act.
This is a lot of activity in a short time from a bureaucracy known to not move swiftly. But the harsh reality is that none of these activities are quick fixes or even quick band-aids to the actual problems encountered. For government bureaucracy and enterprise organizations, the lag time between defining a goal and reaching the goal can be years… not days or hours.
How Long Should the Time Lag Be?
Our own experience is that the smallest bucket for planning at the enterprise level is a month, or more frequently a quarter. Most plans rarely will come to fruition in any less time than a year. Very commonly, even that year will stretch and become more like two.
Is Lack of Action Really the Greatest Risk?
In a second annual survey of Top Risks 2014, performed by North Carolina State University Enterprise Risk Management Initiative, the top risk concern reported by all levels of leadership across all industry sectors was the impact of changes in the regulatory landscape (page 7). This was a top five concern across all sizes of organizations, all leadership roles (from board members to c-suite officers) and all industries.
Surprisingly, the only risk that showed an increased level of concern, year over year, was the risk associated with the impact of “resistance to change” as a factor that would hinder organizations from making necessary changes or adjustments. When combined with the data in this same survey where these same organizations also identified an awareness of risk associated with disruptions to market positions from new technologies, new products and new business models, a rather unsettling trend can be seen.
Clearly there is awareness that to grow, organizations need to be moving forward. Yet the greatest hindrance to moving forward appears to be ourselves.