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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Plan, Execute, Celebrate - #7 of 25 Traits of a Fearless Entrepreneur

Goal setting is a key ingredient of all successful entrepreneurs.

Have you ever really thought about the best way to set your goals?  Do you think about how your goals have played their part in your success?

When I was posed these questions in a recent interview, I gave it some serious thought.  

I have made my living for the past 18 years doing strategic planning for others.  But like the shoemaker whose children are barefoot, often we are not good at doing formal planning for ourselves.

As I have shifted gears from consulting to building a technology and data management company, I have had to revert to my craft and actually do some serious planning.  

I am a funny mixture of long term strategist and the one that knows that a great recipe doesn’t just happen.  

I love to cook, especially for guests.  When making an amazing meal, you have to make sure that you start with a clean surface, the best implements, the finest ingredients, the perfect temperature to cook and the right timing on cooking or baking.  

When you are done, you don’t just revel in your work by looking at it, you partake of it and savor what you have done.  Then you clean up and start all over again.  

Business is like that.  You have to focus on the ingredients – clearing the decks and focusing on what is important, making sure you have the right ideas and the right people to get it done.  


My goals are like a bridge – in fact I use a bridge metaphor in my strategic consulting. 

If you are doing something new, you have to have a strategy and develop a plan.  

You must know how it fits within your existing portfolio and what structure is necessary to provide the best environment for success. 

Then you need to know what initiatives need to be put in place in order to achieve your goals. 

Within each initiative, there are a list of tasks to be identified and assigned.  As you are implementing your strategy, there are also elements that must be considered that impact your processes, your people and your tools.   

Cultural issues must also be taken into consideration before diving into the task list.  A key issue is that those in charge of actually executing the tasks are generally much more comfortable on the right side of the bridge, with an operational mindset.  Keeping their eyes on the longer term is not natural, as their focus is close.  Put them in a room with the strategists, who are set on the long term vision and you have a dichotomy.  But it is possible to meet in the middle!

This model works.  Over the past 18 years of my consulting business, we have used this process hundreds of times to create successful new ventures or expand existing ones.  

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