Business Growth & Strategy

3 Common Sources of Wheel$pin (which can cost us a fortune)

Change has changed, becoming much more like a dynamic journey on a shifting landscape.  The speed of business and pace of change are accelerating all the time, with unprecedented turbulence, uncertainty and volatility.  This can easily overwhelm our agility as an organization, causing us to lose traction and default into wheel$pin, which can cost us a fortune – here 3 of the most common sources and what they can cost us:

  • Strategy Process
  • Goal-Setting
  • Mental Models

1.  Strategy Process:  infrequent and predominated by annual business-planning, budgeting and goal-setting. Don’t get me wrong these are important parts of a good strategy and execution process, but they are far from the whole of it.  This one-year-at-a-time, year-to-year, “annual” orientation to strategy can be very limiting, as five one year plans do not a five year plan make!  Plus, we live in a revved up world and we need to rev up our strategy process to be much more recurring than just annual.  The essence of strategy is conversation; if you don’t have much conversation, you probably don’t have much strategy. Unless we hold ourselves fully accountable, a strategy process can easily become ill-disciplined, open ended, and laborious.  How many strategy processes have you experienced like that through the years?  Don’t let that be you in your present role, in your present organization.

2.  Goal-Setting:  top-down and bottom-up disconnect, mis-alignment and variability throughout the organization. Whatever goal setting and review process does exist, typically has the same year-to-year, one-year-at-a-time, “annualized” approach we cautioned against above.  Agile alignment throughout our business depends upon a well orchestrated cascade and review process of goal setting and performance feedback, balancing the over-engineered rigidity of too much and the organic open-endedness of too little.  Get this wrong and we can have high performance individuals coming together as a medium-to-low performance team.  Don’t let that be you.

3.  Mental Models:  blindness to the pivotal importance of this element, atrophied mental agility and unconscious resistance for the creativity involved. The paradigms, mindsets, assumptions, and beliefs held by you, your team, and your organization are the mental models through which you interpret the world. Old, used-up, and out-of-date mental models imprison our thinking and ability to see new possibilities and pathways. For many CEOs, executives, and managers, this can be a huge, insidious source of wheel-spin and missed opportunity for traction.

“You don’t have mental models, you are your mental models.”

Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

Mental models are part of our belief system and mind’s eye, of how we look at something. How we see influences how we think,;   how we think influences how we act; how we act influences the results we get.

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the

turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

Peter Drucker

Turbulence is not the problem. There has always been turbulence. As that turbulence comes at us thicker and faster all the time, the problem is the logic of our mental models and paradigms.  Is our logic staying ahead of the pace pre-adaptively, keeping up with the pace adaptively, or falling behind the pace post-adaptively? That small thing makes a huge difference to the future prospects of a business.

Being In the Driving Seat of our agility as organizations, teams and executives, is essential to be over-powering these tendencies which are defaulting us into Wheel$pin:  “Wheel$pin:  Regaining Traction in a Fast Changing Business World by Maximizing Your Organizational Agility

Category: Business Growth & Strategy

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Mike Richardson About the Author: Mike Richardson

Mike Richardson is an agility pioneer, dedicated to cracking the code of organizational agility for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things, making possible tomorrow what seems impossible today with Learn More

  1. I’d like to recommend a goal setting tool at, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

  2. Good point with the ‘five one year plans do not [make] a five year plan’ I like it!

  3. Mike, thank you for the comments. I’m a big advocate on setting budgets / forecasts on an annual basis and revisiting quarterly for reality checks / adjustments as appropriate and having goals / performance measures tied to team bonuses and rewards.

    Do you have any suggestions for following up / revisiting strategy after an annual retreat process as I think most of us out there are good at generating ideas in these formats and bad on the follow thru.


    Adam Boatsman

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