Strategic Planning – Part II, Finders, Minders & Grinders:
Posted on July 2, 2020 by Dennis Niven
In Strategic Planning – Part I of III – The Art of War & Enlightenment, I began a discussion of why your company’s Strategic Plan might be collecting dust on the CEO’s shelf. Recapping what I have learned in my 37 years of business experience and philosophy & cultural studies, Part I discussed the vast difference between leaders and strategists, and suggested that the two functions cannot be performed by the same person or people. Herein, I discuss the main reason why the Strategic Plan is shelved… virtually no employees of the company are culturally able to understand it!
Finders, Minders and Grinders –
The informal organizational chart of your company.
Whether written or unwritten, the company’s organizational chart exists today. The future success of the company is dependent upon working within the rules of this informal organization chart. The problem is… the CEO likely doesn’t understand that it even exists. Once understood, the reasons why employees think the way they do become clear, and their reactions will be more predictable.
In small to mid-sized companies, the function of the Finder is almost always filled by an entrepreneurial CEO. It is important to understand that the Finder is different from everyone else in our society. They typically have an above-average IQ, regardless of education, have high ethical and moral business core values, are very creative, aren’t in business just for the money, and, contrary to myth, care deeply about their employees and associates although they may not openly show their feelings. They are good relationship builders, delegate tasks to employees or associates, and cause sales and cash to come into the company.
Finders live in the future and have the attributes to take the risk to do something about the future. They will risk their time and their fortunes to make a difference in the future. The future is all that matters to the Finder, a key difference between them and others in our society. This focus on the future makes them a singularity in the business. Finders are often frustrated when they realize that they are alone in their concerns regarding the future of their company.
Finders spend a significant amount of time and energy attempting to pull (drag?) people into the future. They will hold meetings and retreats, write memos and emails, and use all methods to express their vision and ideas, the big picture. In frustration, they will sometimes say “Does anyone ever listen?” The answer is yes they will listen, but they will not understand.
Finders evoke strong emotions from others, such as love or hate. There is no reason to try to be friends with everyone, because the Finder is looking for leaders, not friends.
When the Finder goes home at the end of the day, the work goes home with him or her and permeates all thoughts and activities. The past is gone with little regret and today is the first day of the future.
Minders are the key administrative people of the company. A Minder might be the company’s controller, bookkeeper, finance manager, CFO, IT Manager, Personnel Director, etc. Minders are intelligent, desire to help and are very loyal to the Finder, and are typically very honest and ethical in their business dealings. The company will not survive without Minders, so hiring, training and retaining good Minders is critical for the success of any company.
Minders live in the past and are not future-thinkers. Most of the assignments given to Minders deal with historical matters or events that have happened in the past, such as historical financial statements, income and sales tax returns, last month’s bank reconciliation, fixing computer hardware or converting old data. I often remark that it is the job of the Minder to go in after the battle is over and bayonet the dead, but it is important that these tasks be done and be done correctly. Once taught how to do something, a Minder will do it over and over again in exactly the same way.
Finders simply need to be aware that it is often difficult for Minders to be concerned about something that might happen a year or two in the future while they are working overtime to try to finish documenting things that have been done in the past. It is hard for the mind to focus on two different time frames at the same time, and after a few years of being rewarded for their focus on the past, some say that looking to the future feels inappropriate to a Minder.
Over time, Minders run into difficult situations such as not having cash to pay employees or vendors, firing people, dealing with competing deadlines when trying to please the Finder while also getting their routine jobs done, and being put in situations for which they have not been trained as the company grows in complexity. Minders do not have the same intestinal fortitude as do Finders about these things they feel hopeless to fix. A Finder should neither expect a Minder to enjoy going to work each day to face these current-time problems nor to stay around after closing time (which they will do, but only out of loyalty and a desire for sincere appreciation for work well done). When the self-confident Minder goes home, they can put the problems in the back of their minds, but most Minders keep trying to “figure out” the problems of the day.
Grinders are people who do the physical work of the company. The Grinder is the person who makes widgets in a manufacturing company, drives nails in a construction company, makes phone calls in a telemarketing company, and puts cars together in an auto assembly plant. Grinders, interestingly, fill most sales positions. Obviously, these tasks are important to the company.
Grinders live for today. Key attributes of a Grinder are they like to work only in the present, often dismiss the past, fear the insecurity of the future, do not like to delegate, like doing one thing at a time, and will do as instructed, are very skilled at their jobs but rarely generate new ideas. Ten minutes before their shift they are in their cars in the parking lot, and ten minutes after their shift they are back their cars about ten minutes down the road.
When Grinders leave the building, their minds are on anything but work except for occasional thoughts of job insecurity. They live in what Dale Carnegie called “day-tight compartments,” which allow them to excel at controlling worry. Superior IQs are often suppressed in order to live a simple life. Come the next morning, Grinders will find themselves wanting to go to work each day.
Finders usually understand how to do the Grinders work (they often started their careers as a Grinder). As a result, Finders can easily hire Grinders to supervise other Grinders, and it is usually very difficult for a Grinder to pull the wool over the eyes of a Finder. Grinders distrust Finders as someone that makes too much of the money that “the Grinders made,” drives expensive cars, cancels profit sharing plans if they have to pay much money to Grinders, etc.
Grinders can typically fool Minders because Minders don’t know how to do their work, which makes Minders distrust Grinders. At the same time, Grinders distrust Minders because they get good pay for sitting in air conditioned offices all day looking for ways to cut Grinders’ pay.
Notes to the Finder at this juncture
All three types, the Finder, the Minders and the Grinders are important to the company. The point is to recognize that these differences naturally exist and to understand them. Don’t be disappointed when a Grinder leaves when the whistle blows – it’s a good thing. Understand when a Minder spends days trying to nail down a ten cent error in the bank reconciliation – it’s a good thing. It is lonely at the top for the Finder – it’s a good thing.
Distrust, although difficult to understand (especially of Grinders’ distrust of the Finder), is a fact of life. Keep it in mind and your words and actions might be better chosen from now on. You must also understand what Minders do so you can avoid getting sucked into playing their role when stuff happens.
Finding activities are much more important to the company than are minding or grinding activities – stay out of their hair! Keep your focus solidly on the future, or find someone else to be the Finder of your company. If you aren’t out there calling on current and potential customers, the Finder of your competition will be.
What this means to the Strategic Plan
The drastically different time focuses that Finders, Minders and Grinders underlies every human interaction in your company. At best, this informal organization chart makes employees like dark ships passing in the night; at worst it fuels distrust that is already naturally there.
The distrust isn’t usually recognized by the CEO, because that person has built a whole picture in their minds that everyone trusts one another and works toward a common vision. This simply isn’t the case, so recognize it. This affects the strategic planning process and undermines efforts to create and implement one.
Remember the faces and attitudes the last time you called employees or associates into a strategic planning meeting? Minders were thinking “If I didn’t have to be in this meeting I could get last month’s reports done that I’ll be called on the carpet for not having finished.” Grinders were thinking “What are they going to take away from me today?” You were thinking “Isn’t it going to be great in the future when we all embrace a strategic plan!”
In Part III of III in this series, I will discuss how to learn from The Art of War & Enlightenment and Why Strategic Planning Isn’t for Everyone to make a strategic plan that will allow leaders to formulate their vision, achieve employee participation and strategically beat the competition.