Getting Executives Out of the Weeds to Focus on the Business / Insights From Oliver Wight’s Robert Hirschey

Man and woman in white shirt block themselves from a wave of documents

I often come across executives who are frustrated and exhausted – from firefighting, from running meeting to meeting only to get detailed updates on what happened yesterday, from a seemingly endless barrage of data, and on and on.

I’ve been there. It seemed like being the bearer of “late breaking news” or able to quote detailed facts and figures was the name of the game. Is this really what executives should be doing? Is this really helping company performance and creating value?

Only occasionally did I have the chance to put the information in perspective, and get into “strategy mode.”

I was stuck in the weeds. I needed to get out. I needed to see the “big picture!”

When I run into executives trapped in the same “detail dysfunction,” I tell them, “You’ve got to get out of the weeds.” Staying in the weeds isn’t helping anyone.

My epiphany? The realization that no matter how much time I spent in the detail, it was not going to do much good if there was an error in the aggregate. In other words, it is really tough, if not impossible, to “short term” your way to strategic  success. Trying to address long-term, strategic and business issues by focusing on short-term detailed information was folly!

Don’t get me wrong, detailed planning is extremely important for making things happen at the sku level over the coming weeks. And it’s important to figure out what will be sold and therefore what needs to be produced and shipped over the next three or four months

But in addition to detailed planning, executives need to be supported by an aggregate planning process. Aggregate planning enables executives to assess multi-year projections of revenue, margin, demand, and capability based on product or service groupings. That’s why executives implement Integrated Business Planning. And that’s how they get out of the weeds and focus on the business.

Detailed planning and aggregate planning are two different processes, skill sets, and mindsets. Detailed planning is what managers need to execute the aggregate plan, business plan, and company strategy and respond to orders. Aggregate planning is what executives need to “right-size” the business and ensure the right strategies, resources, and capabilities are in place to grow the business profitably.

As Vice President, Strategy, for a $2 billion global business, I led the effort to implement Integrated Business Planning. We learned the mindset of aggregate planning. Seeing the “big picture” helped us sustainably improve our business performance. We finally had the time and information to make the decisions needed to ensure that business goals and strategies would be executed.

I have recently authored a white paper on my experience with aggregate planning. To learn more about Aggregate Planning, download my whitepaper on “Aggregate Planning: How to Overcome the Mindset and Perils of Detail Dysfunction.” or consider attending our webinar on this topic:

Getting Executives Out of the Weeds to Focus on the Business / Insights From Oliver Wight’s Robert Hirschey