Imagine if this month you asked your travel agent for help “planning a vacation”. What would they come back to you with? A sunny escape somewhere warm at an all-inclusive?

What if instead you’d asked specifically for the vacation you really had in mind: to get your family “to Disney on my son’s birthday next year for the Electric Light Parade.”

In the first case, the agent might spend a lot of time surfing the web for good deals, spending some time researching cruises for you just for fun, and putting their own lens on what ‘vacation’ means to them. When you checked in on progress, you’d be appalled at their lack of apparent productivity, which can be defined as making progress towards what really needs to be done – your Disney trip.

They may have worked efficiently, quickly identifying a variety of vacation options and they may have very effectively collected comprehensive information, but neither of those translates into true productivity when they’re going in circles.

The Organizational Octopus

It’s the same thing when employees are given a job description but are not engaged in developing specific objectives on what they need to do this week, this month, and this year to move the organization forward, where they fit, and why they matter.  And if they aren’t crystal-clear on your strategic plan and what they specifically contribute to making it happen… they’ll be well-intentioned just like the travel agent, but not productive.

You end up with what I call the Organizational Octopus, where every leg is squirming furiously in different directions towards its own objective, draining productivity right out of the organization because the octopus is going nowhere. Can you see the visual? Now, consider the streamlined shape of the giant squid. It’s the fastest creature in the ocean when all its tentacles are aligned and propelling it towards its objective.

Engagement and productivity can be improved by having the senior team to lead by example by aligning the tentacles, and that means taking a new approach to streamlining and communicating fewer, more valuable goals.

Right now, look at how many “To Do’s” are on your Strategic Plan. If there are more than 3, the research shows that you’re unlikely to achieve ANY of them, let alone all of them. That type of Strategic Planning is outdated, reflecting an era when 10 or even 20-year plans could be developed with some certainty.

It’s Time Transform the Organizational Octopus into Outstanding Productivity… and Profitability

When I work with clients to help them implement ProfitU™, the innovative online university that helps employees turn their talent into value for customers that makes a big difference in your bottom line, we make sure all the tentacles are aligned.  Each week the team focuses on one small aspect of profitability in a way that is completely different from what your CFO does. They learn a new strategy, and the next week they implement it. Total focus – very impressive financial results that you can see in the testimonials at

All the legs of the octopus are aligned, pushing in unison to move it in the right direction, increasing productivity in the workplace. Each employee is focused on the task at hand, and because they are steadily moving in the right direction, they’re productive. Busy work tends to fall away with this process, priorities are clear, and results get delivered.

#1 Bestselling Author, International Speaker, and Accelerator Anne C. Graham is on a mission to help business leaders and their racehorses, colts, and plow horses work together to double their profit per employee – or more – in less than one year, in less time per week than they’re spending on email per day. Her book Profit in Plain Sight includes the 5-step proactive P.R.O.F.I+T Plan to do it, and her innovative online university ProfitU™ makes it easy to implement.  Connect with Anne on LinkedIn.