It’s a pretty familiar narrative. The revenue forecast is missed. You blow the budget on unforeseen expenses, or a key customer doesn’t send the big order. Then the finger pointing begins. “It is beyond my control; the dog ate my homework.”

When we fail to get the results we expect, we get stories instead. Some of the stories are valid, and some are just excuses. Finger pointing is not very productive.

It is a management team’s job to peek into the future, and set goals and forecasts. Markets are fluid, and business is dynamic. However, it is incumbent on the strategist to think through which new entrants may enter a space, how competitors may react and how customers’ needs may change. To an extent, the rest may be dumb luck.

But great managers adapt in real time. The tighter your processes on measurements and controls, the faster one can react to missed results. This is one of the reasons that real-time scorecards are imperative in the execution of strategy. Waiting a month to see results is just too long in today’s rapidly moving environment.

It is also an excellent best practice to constantly revisit budget forecasts. It is useful to marry your financial statements and forecast in a 6+6 (a term often used to describe a statement of actual YTD results + forecast for the months left in the budget year).  Such analysis allows management teams to face market conditions more quickly, ramp up marketing, expand (or contract) sales coverage, make key hires and plan for investments.

Accountability is sorely lacking in many organizations. If results are poor for some time, that is more reflective of management than the people who work for them. For example, sales teams are often the scapegoat for companies who cannot grow. At some point, a management team needs to consider if the problem is the salespeople or the product or service they are given to sell.

Other times managers just don’t want to manage. Performance conversations are difficult and require the managerial courage to call people out when expectations are not met.

So don’t leave the narrative in the hands of people who tell you stories. Take control of your future and drive the results you expect.