Welcome back or welcome to Part 2 if you just finished reading Part 1 of this blog post
Part 2 focuses on accountability and execution while Part 1 discussed business overview and planning.
As a quick reminder, the four pillars are:
- Business Overview: Gain insight into new trends and potential shifts by understanding your business and industry.
- Planning: Develop a strategic plan that allows you to achieve your vision and influences your business decisions along the way.
- Accountability: Identify behaviors and processes that conflict with your work culture to promote the accomplishment of your goals.
- Execution: Accomplish tasks aligned with your business goals within the set timeframe through focus, action, and flexibility.
When you think their goals are pipe dreams, that is all they will be.
Even when they are written down, written goals are more likely to be achieved than those just thought about, yet results ultimately come from the ability to know what work is necessary and to do all the work possible.
Your business overview and your strategic plan determine the right work to be done to go in the right direction. These two elements are often considered static – when they are completed, the work is done. Many of us reach some level of success even if we have been operating with that mindset.
Can you imagine how much MORE could be achieved by using your business overview and strategic plan dynamically? When you
- Intentionally create big goals based on the reality of what your business has done and the resources you have today,
- Keep your 18mo – 36mo plans top of mind each week,
- Stay curious about the disharmony, resistance, or obstacles that crop up,
- And you tune into what customers are doing and new trends,
Your realistic goals may achieve even more than your wildest imagination. Because you know what work is necessary and do as much work as possible.
Hold your standard to include a strong goal-attainment culture to strengthen the determination for your company to excel.
Accountability is the key to reaching your biggest goals in the dynamic realm of business. Disconnection from purpose and revenue plateaus are clues to take a closer look at the makeup of how you hold yourself and your team accountable.
There are three parts to strategic accountability:
To be responsible. To embrace and own the work to be done, solve problems, support customers, and expand new areas of business by evaluating how each of these things move you closer to your 18-36-month goals.
To innovate. Recognizing new patterns and trends to adapt to changing customer behaviors, iterating processes to match customer expectations to your deliverables, and improving productivity while having fun.
To track results and adjust. Use the work that is being done and quantify it. Then, assess how the results move the needle toward your long-term goals. Then, decide what to adjust and repeat.
Accountability (and execution) are active as they require significant amounts of head, heart, and gut space. Building the stamina required to hold the torch for long-term goals requires cultivating a space where every person has the ability to offer ideas and a chance to prove the idea can make a difference in the right direction.
The Realistic Overview of how to hold yourself accountable.
There are several parts of your business humming along all at once.
Our number one focus with each new consulting contract is to evaluate these four pillars – specifically focusing on Accountability. The reality is that working on three or more large initiatives slows down business growth. There are only so many resources (time and energy) and so much money to put into a large goal that might be the focus of the 12-month timeframe. If your company has 7-10 initiatives for the year and just one thing was to go wrong, it is easy to be overcapacity, which quickly creates frustration, fatigue, and burnout.
It is important to remember that maximizing resources is different from maxing out resources. Shifting to looking out further – like an 18m to 36mo timeframe – allows you to see the landscape differently and evaluate questions like:
- Can we upgrade our technology without disrupting the experience our customers have?
- What would it look like to build and launch a plan to put our product in front of a new segment of users?
- How many new clients can we take on and still allocate 30-40% of our time internally to developing a new product/service?
- What levers in our business can we use to grow revenues without growing expenses?
These questions and the questions specific to your business goals are strategic. Knowing who/what the company is now, as well as the goal for the company in 3 years, tells you who/what the company must become to achieve the long-term plan. Taking on more than one strategic question at a time can slow growth, as competing priorities reduce the available resources and take longer to accomplish.
You must decide which priorities are really the priority.
Choosing one strategic initiative in a year that moves the needle and propels you toward your long-term goals allows more people to be more creative together. Together, you learn how to say YES selectively by saying NO more. Building on each success fuels creativity and creates space to get to the root of the problems to solve and to have fun.
Commit to a weekly Present Retreat ™
Staying on track requires setting clear expectations, gathering information and assessing progress, as well as making corrections when needed. Being accountable guarantees that you and your team stay focused and that all endeavors aim to accomplish the desired outcome.
Using your business overview, business plan, and the actual results from efforts, you can more deeply understand what’s happening and how that impacts where you want to go. Are you moving toward, away, or expending energy, standing still? Regular practice checking in on the business is important to create accountability for yourself and your team.
Present Retreats are a framework that I developed to take time to step out of the day-to-day and work on your business so that when you are working in your business, you can make quicker and more confident decisions. Not only is this framework a core part of the way we work with companies to achieve success, but I use it, too.
Most of the time, the ‘pressure’ felt for immediate decisions is perception, not reality. Take time for strategic thinking, protect that time, and consistently use that time for the development of your business.
The 3 Part Present Retreat™:
- Block time. Commit to at least a 2-hour block in your schedule each week. Routines and energy/workflows create cues for the rest of your week to collect what to work through in addition to strengthening the quality of your deep work session.
- Choose an opening and closing action. Some ideas include reading your company mission and vision, reading your favorite quote, taking a few minutes to sit in silence, and taking a walk. Having a specific action to start and end with provides a container for your strategic work.
- Review business goals and priorities. During this time, you are reviewing, assessing, and being curious about what is really going on. Pro Tip: The time goes by faster than you think it will, so have all the data, reports, and notes you want to use prepared BEFORE you begin.
For part three, I put together >> 10 Weekly Questions to Create Accountability << for use as a starting point. Use it as is or customize it for your working style (it is designed for that – as we all use our energy and time differently). This framework is designed to deeply instill the importance of prioritizing the right action for right now AND staying aligned with your long-term goals.
The ability to get the work done aligned with the way you do business in the timeframe set requires focus, action, and flexibility. This is effective execution. Rarely do things go according to plan. This means the execution of a plan is more than just getting it done.
Chaos will always topple rigidity
Being dynamic is fundamental to successfully reaching goals – short or long-term. Knowing when it is time to pause, review, or shift the lens you are viewing through will increase the ability to assess actions and adjust. The tighter you hold to a plan, the quickly anything outside of the plan will severely disrupt the work done so far (and maybe make it necessary to start all the way over).
The world of instant gratification we live in directly challenges the path of execution every step of the way. It is difficult to put on blinders to companies that are in a different business state or have a different result. Keeping your focus matters most – the way you show up (brain = thoughts, heart = feelings, gut = desires) will determine the outcome.
The challenge is part of the journey. The consequences of your ability to focus and to guide your team to focus are real. Sometimes, it is just a time setback, and it is straightforward to reset and keep going. Sometimes, it is the level of accountability that disguises poor execution, which uses up time and money for redoing or restarting. What makes your company unique is the reason you are working on the initiatives you have set. Stay true to your vision.
The ability to execute plans well takes practice – and time. A lot of time. It made me think of Shaolin Monks, who take over ten years of practice to be able to achieve the opportunity to become a Monk Warrior. And, if they fail…it is years before they can try again.
What is fascinating to me about this is how fear is talked about and addressed. Because when that fear is faced, crazy awesome feats are possible – like balancing on a stick just with your feet, not using your hands (called the Monkey Stick – right around 2:30 in the video).
It really shows up in business, too. Time and time again, I’ve seen companies achieve more than their wildest expectations because they kept the focus. They work on their work – regardless of the competition (even though they know very well what their competitors are up to). They align their actions to their values to set and keep expectations which keep customers. Results like:
- Grow from $0 to $1mm in 2 years.
- Double revenue in 12 months.
- Achieve a 2-year plan in 6 months.
- Use the Present Retreat™ framework to build necessary CEO skills.
- Increase profit margin by 10% without cutting costs by really understanding the impact of business levers.
This level of success also comes from business owners and CEOs who have learned to:
- Focus on one thing which allows their companies to grow faster.
- Change the relationship between cash flow and net revenues.
- Suss out behaviors preventing growth and silently eroding the way work is done.
- Confident in the choice to stay in the business or sell it.
- Discern the difference between work and the right work to create a sustainable company.
- What you don’t or aren’t willing to do.
Every situation you have is different from mine – even when there are similarities. We can tap into each other’s knowledge with the understanding that each other’s knowledge is to be used as a guide, not the instruction manual. Your unique selling proposition, product delivery, customers served, and growth goals will be different from anyone else’s. Time, technology, and ultimate reasons for being a business owner or CEO also differ.
Knowledge and other’s experiences are often misused. Avoid the pitfall of using someone else’s story as the instruction manual to get through or build an atypical business situation. You are forging your own path and guiding your company forward.
The Realistic Overview of how to master execution.
Ultimately, success depends on your ability to get a plan from start to finish effectively. The ability to focus, flex, and adapt while taking calculated risks are key elements to executing well. Taking a long-term goal from beginning to end is as much an art form as expertise.
Sometimes, the plan turns out to inform you what not to do.
New opportunities and ideas are always going to come up. Each set of actions completed provides new information, and it is common to want to expand, incorporate, or adjust to go after something new. Using a Present Retreat™ consistently will help you know whether or not this new information really supports the end goal. When it’s not, it is easy to decisively say no.
Achievement springs from masterful implementation.
With execution, the beginning, middle, and end are equally important:
- Beginning: the clear understanding of why (who we must become) to achieve the goal.
- Middle: the expected objectives set to reach the goal, not necessarily in a specific order.
- End: The results are close enough to recognize accomplishment and to begin looking at the next part.
Success requires decisive action. You will have beginnings, middles, and ends, sometimes happening at the same time. This increases uncertainty, and the ambiguity can be relentless. Which means you must be relentless, too! Go after the tangible results. Take the time to ensure you are confident in the approach. Understand what calculated risk looks like for your company. Fuel your mind and heart with the right approach. Concrete achievement will happen.
Grab chaos by the hand and rethink your thinking.
Execution’s enemies are all between your ears. Whether ego, experience, what can be controlled, or even your assumptions put you in your own way will cause problems while carrying out the plan.
At the center, execution is all about letting go of what we think we know and having a beginner’s mindset to face all the obstacles, problems, and tangents that come up working toward your biggest goals.
Decisions can be the hardest part of what you do – the more small decisions that must be made, the more difficult the bigger decisions become. Decision fatigue can be avoided. The depth of your understanding of the business overview, how you plan, and what accountability looks like makes it clear that any choice is NOW, LATER, or NEVER. The majority of ideas and suggestions actually fit into the NEVER category.
The ‘why’ and ‘what’, when clear, are able to be adopted by everyone at every level of your organization. So the more your team works together to problem solve, the more the ideas become the best possible choices early on. This boosts creativity, innovation, and excitement to solve business problems well.
One way to help everyone in your company is to LEAD. This stands for Launch Effective Aligned Decisions.
Launch. Get started! Find the data or do the work to collect data to be used. Sometimes, that means taking action first (#ActToPlan) – do the prep work necessary.
Effective. Communication matters! The ‘why’ and ‘what’ define now, later or never without doubt. Saying no is easier to understand because the path of the journey is known by everyone.
Aligned. The way we do our work here! Behavior that we tolerate can hurt the results or help them. Immediate adjustments in behavior ensure all the effort is going in the same direction.
Decisions. Determine the next step. Decisions are never set in stone; they just create knowledge to uncover or affirm the direction you are going.
Achievement requires momentum. Your values and the way you do your work together influence the fuel for creativity, problem-solving, and, ultimately, success.
The four pillars of business success are Business Overview, Planning, Accountability, and Execution. Exploring these pillars with a Realistic Overview perspective gives practical ways to integrate them to reach your biggest goals. Accepting what is really happening allows you to recognize the right next step to fuel success.
In addition to working with any or all of these business success pillars, they are interconnected. Picking one to work with and develop within your company will provide insight into the other areas.
- The first pillar involves gaining a clear understanding of your business and industry. This knowledge can help you identify potential trends and shifts that you can use to your advantage.
- The second pillar is all about strategic planning. This step can help you move closer to your vision and make the best decisions for your business.
- The third pillar is accountability. This requires taking a hard look at behaviors and processes that don’t align with your values and working to strengthen your culture.
- Finally, the fourth pillar is execution. This is where you put everything into action and require focus, action, and flexibility to complete the work on time.
“Your capacity to keep composure during high-stress times indicates how you make a decision. What you take away from each success and failure informs how you will respond to uncertainty.”
Sometimes, your plan is to know what not to do.
Often, we focus on what we can do by not excluding anything excessive that results in decision fatigue, burnout, and even revenue growth plateaus. Recognizing that uncertainty is the norm, stamina for recognizing assumptions and staying focused is necessary, and decisions you make are not set in stone provides space to asses ideas and opportunities and confidently say yes or no this moves us closer to our goal.
Your long-term (18mo – 36+mo ) goals mean you look at information differently and for longer periods of time, which improve sensing and identifying emerging trends internally and externally. This information is important, yet it doesn’t steer you away from what you are guiding your company to become so that your biggest goals can be achieved.
Mastering these pillars of business success creates the map of your journey (the strategy that aligns with your aspirations). Business can be competitive, and knowing where you are leading your team allows you to confidently pave the way for each project and initiative that builds toward the ultimate goal. This is a foundation you can use to navigate your unique path to growth and achieve the success you desire.
Take this work further….apply for Driving Solutions Strategic Intensive.