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The Adjustment Bureau

Optimize Blog - March 2, 2011 - 0 comments

Here at Zeitgeist we enjoy a good movie and so we are looking forward to the new release starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt entitled The Adjustment Bureau. This film is based on a science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Orbit Science Fiction, Sept-Oct 1954.
Basically the story is about a secret team of ‘Adjusters’ that make interventions to get ‘The Plan’ back on track. In a quote from the original book, the purpose of this adjustment team is described as follows – “The natural process must be supplemented – adjusted here and there. Corrections must be made. We are fully licensed to make such corrections. Our adjustment teams perform vital work.”
Now we don’t know if the film is any good – critics seem to be divided and certainly complex Sci-fi plots often have more holes than a salad spinner – but it is, nevertheless, an intriguing scenario based on fate and our continuing attempts to intervene and influence the future.
Perhaps it is a little unsurprising but we immediately saw the parallel with corporate and business planning and how much our clients either invest in mapping out their future direction or alternatively leave results to chance. Also unsurprisingly we fall into the camp of investing time and effort into strategy and creating a plan to deliver that strategy.
Now we are not so naive to think that once the plan is in place everything will proceed according to said plan – ask any military person and you will get the response that “When the bullets start flying the first thing to go is the plan…” However, it is better to have a plan and adjust that plan according to the changes and influencing factors rather than to not have a plan and just react as and when the need arises.
If you have done a thorough and rigorous job determining your strategy and have been diligent in developing an execution plan for that strategy then the art of leadership is to head up your very own Adjustment Bureau. You need to identify and make the adjustments and the corrections based on the leading indicators and critical success factors you identified as part of your strategy development process. Make sure that you have the relevant Management Information to enable you to make those adjustments and corrections in a timely manner.
Refer to your plan often and continually evaluate the strategic choices you made. Check your assumptions regularly and don’t be afraid to make changes as required. If you change the plan don’t forget to communicate the changes required and why. Provide the context and ensure alignment within and across your teams.
So, as you shovel the next handful of popcorn while watching the Adjustment Bureau, give some thought to your own business plan and consider what changes you might need to make. If you don’t have a plan then determine to develop one – once the movie is over of course.

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