Saturday, March 25, 2006

lesson: start at the end

I've been working through some "adult care" issues with my wife relating to her parents. Believe you me, watching her and her siblings struggle as they come to grips with the declining health of their mom and dad is no treat.

But as we talked, I came to understand that the emotional issues relating to this are slowing down - and in some regards preventing - the creation of a "plan". Instead, they are doing what they think is best in the "now", without first coming to an agreement with their parents and each other about what the ultimate goal is.

As a de facto outsider, I see this pretty clearly. I can see that there need to be conversations with my in-laws about what they want, so that whatever needs to be done to get there, they've bought in. It's entirely possible that what they want isn't achievable, or only partially so, and that's OK - a facts-based discussion should help shed some light on the options.

And once we know where we're going, we can start to develop the right plan for long-term care, which should defuse some of the emotional landmines that everyone is dancing on right now.

What, you ask, does this have to do with product marketing.

I've seen a strong tendency throughout my career for senior management to order up some marketing like they're going through a drive-through. We all saw a lot of this earlier in the decade - companies were buying expensive ads, building collateral, writing value propositions, buying Aeron chairs - without either a clear sense of what outcome they wanted or whether that outcome was even consistent with their long-term plan.

Thankfully, I'm not getting that now - but as I work through my own minefields, I'm constantly reminded of the value of planning with the end in mind, however eager I am to start writing speeches, talking to the press, briefing sales. There will be plenty of time to do all the "fun" stuff.

But right now, I'm starting at the end. Both personally and professionally.

Art imitates life, round and round.

1 comment:

Ron said...

The desire to not discuss the consequences of decisions we don't make is so strong that I think it has a 'black hole' effect; we can tell what's really important by what people won't talk about.