Learning from Personal Loss – Strategic Planning

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As we enter the rememberance of 9/11, it reminds me of what things in life are important.  The memories of that day alone are still strong in mind, as I remember my phone ringing at 5:44 AM PDT that morning from our East Coat Regional Director, based in NYC, and then the day began.  Having sent someone in my place to attend a conference in DC, I was still in CA, and since HR was one of the groups that reported through me, the fact that I was receiving this call was no surprise.  At the end, the loss was 3 employees, yet the trauma of the survivors was equally as strong.  No one can ever know exactly how much each person felt, experienced or still is going through, yet there is no doubt it was and continues to be a lot.

Recently I experienced the loss of a childhood friend, and although life is a cyclical event, it is never easy, and particularly someone that is young, vivacious and already an angel on earth.

 Strategic Planning and Execution

I think that events such as loss, puts into perspective the “realness” of life and we often sit and ponder where we are, what our life means, and in particular begin to put things into perspective.  Although, the passing of a loved one is never easy for the surviving family and friends, it too has an evolution.  You never forget, yet you learn to deal with what is important.  Important will have many meanings depending upon whom is dealing with it, and will take on various  degrees of time, controls, etc.  we attempt to ease the pain and loss that we experience and work together to move forward, yet again, the processing will occur differently, yet usually similarly.


So as I learned of the loss, and had the privilege of being able to be close to attend the service, it made me think about many things, and of course inspired me to relate this back to what we deal with in business – the ebb and flow of cycles of learning, loss, growth and moving forward and/or on.  


Why then can we not use the same or similar process to deal with our businesses and particular our employees?


We always seem to stop and start initiatives.  We get people excited about what we want to do, implement surveys, assessments, programs and the likes, yet then what do we do with it all afterwards?  This is the $1M question.  


What do you do and/or your organization?


Why do you do it?


What do you stop?


Can you measure results?


Do you know what results you are measuring and why?


We ask people to allow the loss of someone to take the time and process, and that “time heals all…”, then why can we not follow through in business in the same fashion, and truly follow through?  Stops and starts without any real communication does not make for appropriate change.  


Years ago Elizabeth Kubler-Ross authored a book and process on death and dying, and over the years this has been transcended into many aspects of our everyday lives, inclusive of business.  The bell curve that she identified works well personally and professionally DABDA:

– denial

– anger

– bargaining

–  fear/depression

– acceptance


There are several change models that have adopted the same and/or similar approaches.  When think of change, ADKAR (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Results) you can see that again much of we have learned has come from the personal situations that we have dealt with.  There is not a person around that can easily say that their personal and professional existence do not coincide, and if they do, I want to know how that is even possible.  


Strategy and Communication


Our mere existence as individuals and teams within business dictate that we will thrive, prosper, work, etc. together, as well console, counsel and assist one another.  


Businesses spend so much time talking to and about business to their employees, yet they do not speak with them.  This is a huge concern and opportunity.  When things don’t happen, loss occurs and initiatives do not transpire as they should, then who gets blamed, where do the fingers get pointed at, when do things get to the simple point of looking at whether it was something about what was being measured and managed and if it was consistent.  


So often the change, the loss, the doing or not doing is about the lack of coordinated effort and the toll and cost on the business is huge.


Simply ask yourself whether you can clearly identify what you do (Vision) and how to support it (Strategies), and does your organization know them clearly and use them to measure and manage to?  Again, simply, are you aligned and executing together and how do you know?


Loss, regardless of personal or professional  it is loss.  Making it all about knowledge, change and understanding, goes a long way to make the process (not the program) work.

When companies take the time to do strategic planning and communication, then they need to take the time to coordinate and get them in sync and to the whole company.  Also, the coordination of communication, change and “win or lose” it is about learning, growing and together making it happen.  No change happens in isolation.  Loss is sometimes what we learn from, if we can take it as a learning experience.  Although you can never prepare for loss completely, you can plan and hopefully be more prepared to deal with the ups and downs that we all deal with in business.  Never under estimate that change is both professional and personal and the affects and effects are on a continuum.

When you plan how do you execute?  Do you know what keeps you up and night and plan for such?

As always, as business leaders, we want to hear from you and how you have handled, will handle are are going to handle dealing with both sides of the continuum.


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