Tag Archives: strategic plan

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describing culture

Describing Culture Gets Easier Once You Understand

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What is the culture of your organization or team? Is it well defined and can you easily explain it to others? Describing culture may have its challenges, but if you can’t identify what it is no one else will understand either.

People often want the short version. The short story. Sum it up for us because we don’t have much time.

Yet we would seldom laugh at a joke told if we were only told the punchline.

Interests and Understanding

People seem to be most interested when they like something.

They’ll discuss their hobbies, their quest for a new or remodeled home, a new car, or an elaborate vacation. They’re interested because they like it.

Not everyone may like what they like. Someone may believe you buy a car and run it until it does, a different person may believe that you should always trade it in within a two-year window.

It’s true for hobbies, vacations, and the choices made for what you call home.

Not everyone agrees, yet most people can respect why it might be important to someone.

What about your workplace culture, can you describe it?

Describing Culture

It isn’t always about trying to make someone believe what you believe. Sometimes it is about making them see what you are seeing.

Once others see it, they have a new choice. A choice to believe. Even if it isn’t their thing, they may be able to feel it. That is where the belief begins.

Shaping a culture is visionary. It is often fluid; it twists and morphs across time. It’s probably not exactly what is written in the strategic plan, it is probably not exactly what is illustrated in the company video.

You can tell it to everyone. Tell them what it is and how it will be.

Yet, what they feel will become what they believe.

If you’re going to have the culture that you desire, you’re going to have to work on understanding what the people of that culture feel. What they feel begins with what they see.

It’s not about the formal description. It’s not some fancy words, some clever jargon, or the video on the website.

You can suggest a joke is funny. Telling someone to laugh at the punch line doesn’t mean that it is.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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Stories create action

Stories Create Action When Action is Missing

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“Once upon a time,” is a memory from childhood. It is how the child in you expects to open your mind for something really good. As adults we may discover, “Imagine if,” is just as powerful. Do your stories create action?

Stuck or stalled organizations want action and often the only way to get more action or new action is to change something.

Consultants and coaches often ask, “What are you going to change?” The answer is often difficult.

It is hard to imagine today. The first McDonald’s drive through happened in 1975. Perhaps there was a pay phone nearby. Something that is extremely scarce or non-existent today.

NASA technology has changed many things in our lives. So has the work of a few clever people such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos. What stories did they tell?

Stories Create Action

When a business creates a strategic plan it creates the opportunity for the story. The best plans have a clever and direct mission, vision, and objectives. They are right there, on paper or digital, available to read, understand, and deploy.

Yet every business plan doesn’t create billionaires. Every business plan doesn’t result in success.

Our lives change through stories. Organizations grow, develop, and change based upon a story. The story is a vision told and repeated. A successful story is believed.

When you want real change in your organization it may include a strategic plan, yet a plan without a story doesn’t create much action.

Tell a story that resonates and you’ll get action.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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contingency plan

3 Reasons Why You Will Need a Contingency Plan

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Will your strategy work? Do you have an awesome plan? The truth may be that the better your plan, the more you are going need to develop another plan. A contingency plan, do you have one?

It is true that many small businesses get by without putting pen to paper for a plan. They don’t put data entry to digital document either. They stroll along for years based almost entirely on gut feel.

Sometimes this works, but normally it has some magical limitations. Of course, no one really knows those limitations because the plan is just a feeling, a fairytale, some magic.

Strategic Plan

Is a personal or organizational strategic plan the solution to become unstuck?

In my opinion, a plan is always a good idea. A very precise and detailed plan certainly helps avoid anything falling through the cracks. Are there problems with a tight plan?

Yes, but when you plan for the unplanned there is a good chance you’ll keep moving in the right direction.

Should you have a backup plan?

Contingency Plan

There are many reasons to have a contingency plan.

Here are three of my favorite reasons:

  1. Surprises. Things aren’t always going to go exactly as planned. There is a time to push or force the issue. There is also a time to go with the flow. Surprises have an interesting way of shaping a slightly tweaked direction. A direction that still gets us where we need to be.
  2. Specifications Change. The specs are the specs in the tightest plan. What if the specs aren’t the specs that are needed? Identification of a want isn’t always the same thing as the need. Fluidity in design should be part of the contingency.
  3. Missed Deadlines. The metric of time is valuable. Too soon can be nearly as problematic as too late. Along the way both surprises and specification changes may alter the timing. Sometimes the best question is not about, “what if,” it is about, “what we’ll do when.”

Tight, highly detailed plans are a good idea. The best plan almost never happens.

The perfect plan is one that is built with a contingency.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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How to Stick With Your Plan

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Have you ever asked yourself, “How will I stick with my plan?” Often the plan is not too complex, the timeline is reasonable, and the level of personal or professional growth is attainable. So what limits your success? Why do so many still come up short?

business people group in a meeting at office

Coming Up Short

Much of my business is focused on helping individual people or entire organizations reach for more. I work with clients to do coaching programs, training and development, and even create some incredible strategic plans, but not all of them will accomplish their goals.

Often the hardest thing for us to do as people is to stay focused and committed to the plan. That doesn’t mean that the plan cannot change, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t fluid, and it doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard, but a lack of commit to the plan is almost always the beginning of a looming failure to achieve the goal.


Many will find situations or circumstances to blame, they might cite a lack of motivation, discipline, or even blame it on a lack of time. The truth is that while all of those things might be a factor, they aren’t the real reason.

The real reason is that you or the employee teams responsible for the goals and outcomes didn’t follow through.

You fell back to old habits, made excuses to abort activities or tasks because they felt awkward, cumbersome, or simply not within your comfort zone. Time is often blamed, there isn’t enough or the old way was faster.

If you’re going to make changes you are going to have to stick with your plan.

Becoming Sticky

How do you make that happen? Here are a few tips:

  1. Be realistic. Make sure that your goals are worthy of stretching and reaching, but they must also be realistic. Losing 10 pounds in two days probably isn’t realistic and neither is increasing sales or production efficiencies by triple digit percentages within a very narrow window of time. Stretch is good, unrealistic is not.
  2. Check results. You must always be measuring to your goal. Smaller goals that are progressive are often much better than larger goals that feel overwhelming and cause people to stall or stop. Provide visual aids as reminders, put it on your calendar if that makes sense, and frequently measure your distance to a milestone or the goal.
  3. Stay focused. Don’t stray from your plan or the activities associated with it. It will be easy to tell yourself that something else is more important, or that the timing isn’t right, or you’re just not in the right mood. If you are so compelled to talk yourself out of the actions that support your plan, revisit the plan, make an adjustment if necessary, and stick with the new plan.

Nearly all people and organizations will face hurdles, obstacles, and other scenarios that may result in shortcomings or failures, but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to stop, quit, or send the plan to the recycle bin.

Keep your plan fluid and flexible, but make sure you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

Even the goal can change, but it must still be something that pulls you towards it and draws you in.

Will you stick with your plan?

The answer is easy—only if you want to.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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