Nine Common Obstacles That Derail Growth

stop signAs you approach the end of the first quarter of 2011, your growth plan and marketing activities are well underway. How will you keep them fresh and relevant?

Launching and implementing your growth plan entails risks. Plans often expose underlying conflicts within the organization. It may disrupt the status quo, the ways decisions are made, and strain the most established relationships among key players. How can you prevent current operating norms and B.S. (Belief Systems) from dictating, derailing, or delaying your growth plan?

The first step is to understand the main causes of plan derailment. Here are the most 9 common ones that I have observed over the past two decades:

  1. Lack of communication—The plan doesn't get communicated to employees or allies who keep on working in the dark.
  2. Mired in the day-to-day—Managers consumed by daily operating problems lose sight of long-term goals. Today's technical outage, employee resignation, or client emergency will happen. The question is: how well are you structured to delegate some of these emergencies to others who can handle them?
  3. Out of the ordinary — The plan is treated as something separate and removed from the management process.
  4. People perceive vision, mission and value statements as fluff. How did that limiting belief become part of your company culture?
  5. The plan is reviewed too infrequently to stay relevant. If you are relying on one annual retreat to review your plan, you might as well not have one. It has already become obsolete.
  6. Conducting business as usual after a live planning meeting. How often have you seen teams leave a planning session and quietly comment about "getting back to normal again?"
  7. Failing to make the tough choices. A solid, well thought out plan will reveal deficiencies in your team, your marketing plan, your funding, or your capacity. Are you ready to fill those gaps and relieve people who are a poor fit in the new organization? Or, do you tend to hope they will leave on their own accord? Will you need to meet with your banker and request a higher line of credit? These are challenges you must confront, not ignore.
  8. Lacking a scoreboard: Are you measuring what's easy, or what is important?
  9. Neglecting to benchmark your company against the competition. Remember that your biggest competitors may include Inertia, Inc. and Not Invented Here.

You can overcome these common planning mishaps.

For best results, regularly share the strategic plan with other stakeholders like investors, customers, alliance partners, etc. An "open book" approach will likely generate more helpful ideas and suggestions about the future of your business. In our next post, I will show you a process to guide the reviews and turbo-charge your teams.

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Copyright 2011, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

Lisa Nirell is the Chief Energy Officer of EnergizeGrowth®. She helps companies grow customer mind share and market share. Since 1983, Lisa has worked with Trend Micro, Zappos, BMC Software, Microsoft, IBM, and hundreds of entrepreneurs in nine countries. Lisa is also an award-winning expert speaker, business columnist and the author of "EnergizeGrowth® NOW: The Marketing Guide to a Wealthy Company." To download your five complimentary educational bonuses and sample chapter, visit and register for EnergizeNews.

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  • Lisa Nirell

    Hello David, I am glad that my article has inspired you to create a list of your own! Step #5 resonates with me. Too many companies review their plans annually, only to find that their competition has outpaced them. It's just as useless as annual employee performance reviews.

    Please check out my most recent post for a contemporary plan review process.

    Thank you!

  • Terry

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  • David Kaiser, PhD

    Lisa, great article. Since I like to focus on the positive, what TO DO, in addition to the what not to do, I took the liberty of turning your list around.

    1. Communicate the Plan often and clearly
    2. Stay focused on long-term goals
    3. Remember that the Plan is part of "Real" and "Now."
    4. Refer to the mission / vision / plan often, use them to make decisions and demonstrate, personally their importance.
    5. Review and re-assess the plan frequently
    6. After a live planing meeting, give it some time to sink when. Whn returninig to "normal" activities, refer back to the Plan.
    7. Make tough choices, confront challenges
    8. Create a scoreboard, poplate it and refer to it.
    9. Benchmark against competitors and world class companies and functions.

    David Kaiser, PhD
    Time Management Coach for Authentic Leaders