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Ketchup and Implementation

In the summer, I think there’s nothing like a good hot dog with chili, coleslaw, and some shredded cheese. In addition to tasting fabulous, sometimes a good chili dog teaches you a lesson (other than don’t wear a white shirt while eating it!). Just this past week, I was making our homemade hot dog chili, and an incredible revelation hit me. You see, I had all of the ingredients – lean ground beef, yellow onion, garlic, chili powder, mustard, etc. – but I could not make the chili. There was no ketchup to be found anywhere in our kitchen. No Heinz. No Hunts. No house brand even. Nada. No ketchup, no chili. It only takes a cup and a half for my recipe, but it’s an essential ingredient with no substitute. And then it hit me….what I was staring at looks like a lot of organizational teams. They have the people, the plans, and even their “special differentiating factors” but they are missing the one crucial ingredient needed to make things work. They’re a chili recipe with no ketchup.

As I see it, the ketchup for groups is protected time to implement plans and new changes. You see, without the ketchup (and you really don’t need that much) you do not have hot dog chili. Groups need protected time – time when they don’t have a meeting, a phone call, a looming deadline, or whatever, to actually implement the work that has been decided. It doesn’t take a lot – I think for most groups if you just gave folks a day and a half of protected time to process the proposed changes, discuss new goals and objectives, call some key individuals to figure out what is needed, or update key documents with new work flows, you would get to effective implementation a lot quicker. If you don’t, your organizational team is likely to wander around without really accomplishing what you all hoped for.  

So, this summer, I encourage you to make some hot dog chili with your team (for real and metaphorically). Dust off the plans and give folks protected time and space to move some ideas closer to the finish line. I promise you’ll enjoy the results.

Holly Hayes

Holly Hayes, President & Founder
ISI Consulting