In an earlier blog post I examined the Pig and Chicken management theory of employee engagement.
An appreciative reader of that blog laid down a challenge for me to write a follow up blog about the analogy between a guinea pig race and the implementation phase of a strategic plan in an organization.
In the Netherlands an analogy is often drawn between poor implementation of a strategic plan and the Guinea Pig race which was the finale of a popular game show aired between the late 80s and 90s. I looked up the link that the reader sent, fully intending to dutifully draw a reference between the two concepts as challenged but then a funny thing happened on the way to the race.
I got hopelessly lost in the maze of the predefined analogy sent in by the reader. His reference had a cultural and nostalgic sentiment which I did not share. I didn’t grow up in the Netherlands you see, so this show in question was not part of my teenage years like say Knight Rider or The Bionic Woman. By the way dear readers, who knows the song referenced in the title of this blog? Anyway, like the Dutch guinea pig from the Dukes of Hazard era, I was trying to solve a puzzle based on someone else’s master plan (and cultural reference point) and not my own. As a result I took an embarrassingly long time to write this follow up, got stuck in writer’s block, with no vision of how to get the concept across…
But hold the phone…
Isn’t my predicament similar to what happens to employees who are expected to implement strategic plans dreamt up by management? Could it be, that, employees- dare I say it- need ownership of a process to foster commitment and engagement?
What a novel idea! Luckily I found my proverbial way in time so read on below for my take on this management theory.
First of all, what’s up with all of the animal references in management theories? For that matter, have you ever noticed amount of animal or combat references in business terms? If you work in the field of M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) you will be familiar with terms such as- Bear Hug, Dawn Raid, Lobster Trap, Poison Pill and Killer Bees among others. In a recent interview, Ariana Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, made the point that in business we are always either “killing it, or crushing it”. And if you read my earlier blog post then the fate of the pig probably comes to mind.
Strategic implementation as a term though is pretty plain vanilla- it means exactly what it says- a management term for how a company goes about implementing its strategic plan. I guess there was no inspiration to be found from the animal world so the powers that be opted for a functional description along the lines of “head tie”.
Given that the term clearly says what it does, management often is shocked at how poorly execution of the actual implementation of the strategy turns out. Why oh why could this be the case? Allow me to add some more animals to the business menagerie- with the following fable of the field mouse and the owl.
One day a field mouse was just skittering about in the woods, until he realized that he was scampering in circles and had lost his way. Luckily he was not all alone in the woods, as a wise old owl was sitting watching his predicament from his lofty perch in a pine tree.
The field mouse politely enquired of the owl- “Please, Mr. Owl, could you tell me how to get out of this wood?”
The old owl (a bit condescendingly) replied “Sure young fellow that’s easy, just grow wings and fly, like I do”.
“But sir”, asked the field mouse, “how can I grow wings?”
The owl looked down at him (figuratively and literally) and sneered: “Don’t bother me with the details, I only decide on policy.”
Ba- dum- tss (rimshot).
So what’s your take, did I find my way out of this Guinea Pig maze? If you liked it, like it and share it.
Got another animal reference or idea for a blog post? Challenge me!