A New Year’s Resolution For Your Business
by Carey Rome:
Before you know it, the gluttony of the holiday season will be over, and it will be time for the ritualistic “New Year’s Resolution.”
A time when you think about a better you, a more productive you, and dare I say, a more fit you… These are the themes that are easy for us to contemplate and hard for us to follow up on.
So, how do resolutions happen?
Is it by ritual alone?
Or, is it because you gave yourself a “pass” over the holidays and now you’re ready to do something?
Well, I’m not quite sure.
Because, According to a 2013 Forbes article, just 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
And, what about your company? Are things any different? After all, the complexities that go along with running a company are real. However, you have a team to help implement your plan. Surely, with a clear plan and a team to implement, the statistics would be better than just individual resolutions. Right?
Surprisingly, the answer is no. In a completely separate 2017 article in Inc. Magazine, it was estimated by authors David Norton and Robert Kaplan in their book, The Balanced Scorecard, that 90 percent of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully.
Hmmm…that’ll get the wheels turning.
So, what is it? There must be some correlation between the two – or at least I hope so, because the alternative is that we are just flawed as humans. Call me an optimist, but I just can’t accept that we are so flawed that only 8% – 10% of the population are destined to actually improve their lives either individually or through their company.
With that passion cry, let me attempt to build the case for a simpler, better way.
Let me start by saying that the fact that we can actually think about a future is pretty cool. I understand that not everyone is a visionary, but we’ve all anticipated something in our lives. Planning for your business’s success is no different.
To my recollection, the only time a day has been exactly the same and never changed was in the movie Groundhog Day. So, unless you believe every day is Groundhog Day, we can all agree that things will change from day to day.
If we can agree that things change from day to day, the next logical hurdle is whether you have control over how your day changes.
Notably, I may lose some people here…I get it. But this is a critical divide, because there are only two camps.
Camp 1: You are overwhelmingly IN CONTROL of what happens to you. Every decision that you make influences the circumstances around you.
Camp 2: You are overwhelmingly NOT IN CONTROL of what happens to and around you. Instead, you are a victim of circumstances of which you have little control. A full 54% of executives in a survey conducted by Navalent, said “they felt they were being held accountable for problems outside their control.”
Maybe the picture is starting to become a little clearer. Trust me, I hate being held accountable for something that I don’t have control over… But that begs the question – What are you doing to take control? As we will see below, less than an hour a week focusing on what you want isn’t going to cut it.
So, are these executives just making excuses?
While this may appear harsh to some, this is a pivotal point in your ability to ultimately get the results that you want. This is the point where you decide that you are accountable for the outcomes that you get.
Let’s talk about some action steps to make next year better.
Starting with a couple of stats from a 2017 Harvard Business Review article (https://hbr.org/2017/11/executives-fail-to-execute-strategy-because-theyre-too-internally-focused)
- 85% of business leaders spend less than 12 hours per year talking about their strategy (less than an hour per month)
- 77% of those that are successful (as previously mentioned an estimated 10%) have a process for making strategy happen and a system for monitoring progress
Based on my math, if 90% of business strategies fail (see Inc. article referenced above) that means 10% succeed. And, of the 10% that succeed, 77% have a process for making strategy happen. That means that 92.3% of all businesses do not have a process for making strategy happen. And of those, only 2.3% achieve success, despite not having a system. Sounds like an opportunity here…
We could go on and on with statistics, but I think this paints the picture well. Those that aren’t successful spend less time focusing on what they want. Those that are successful use a process to create and monitor the strategy work that must be done on a regular basis.
Is that it? Is it as simple as spending more time on what you say you want?
Well, yes and no.
We can start with “Yes.” While I do not have a statistic to reference here, I do have over 20 years of experience with successful executives to reference. Their overwhelming sentiment on getting the success desired? Measure, measure, measure what you say you want.
Pretty simple, right?
Ok, so let’s get to the “No” part and the 77% statistic referenced above. What is the one thing this group has that others don’t? Correct, a system and a process to follow.
This leads me to how “strategy” or “planning” typically happens in companies. In my experiences, peak season for planning is in late fall and pre-holiday season. The larger the company, the earlier they start.
For entrepreneurs and small business owners, this may literally happen the week of Christmas and New Year’s when things are quiet.
Having said that, in a majority of scenarios, the business leader gathers the team together and “presents” them with the future direction of the company. This could be as formal as an annual kick-off meeting or as informal as a lunch.
…And this is where things begin to fail.
For most companies, presenting strategy is very similar to presenting the cover of a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Clearly you see what the final puzzle is supposed to look like. It’s not overly hard to see the image once completed.
If you are effective in presenting your strategy, your team will get what your final “strategy puzzle” will look like. Not unlike the lovely beach scene in the completed puzzle here (I actually own this puzzle and use it for this specific example).
Now, if you never follow up on your strategy, the final outcome you’ve painted for the – that end result picture, will get lost.
It is not unlike presenting the box cover of a puzzle that will take 12 months to complete and dumping the puzzle pieces on the table and then take the box cover and hide it.
The team will have nothing to guide them as they move throughout the year.
How successful would you be if you could not see the box cover of the puzzle that you were supposed to complete?
By now hopefully you agree that this next year you are going to do two things to ensure success for your team:
- Use a system for making strategy happen
- And find a way to see all that you have in process so that it can easily be measured
Fortunately, there are things that you can do right now to increase the likelihood of YOUR BUSINESS’S New Year’s Resolution being successful. Below are a few tips to help shortcut your path to success:
First, Simplify Your Opportunity – For most business owners, the opportunities they have been considering for the past 12 or 18 months have been numerous. This may have included speaking with peers, attending industry conferences, hiring consultants, considering acquisitions and more.
The problem with this process is it can be extremely difficult to decide on which opportunity you want to pursue. Without a cohesive plan, when you explain it to your team, it goes over their head. They get confused, overwhelmed, don’t know where they fit in…and as a result they don’t buy in to your plan.
Let me relate it to the most popular personal New Year’s Resolution – Getting More Healthy and Fit (according to a YouGov poll (a global public opinion and data company) 37% of people planned to Eat Healthier and 37% Get More Exercise in 2018.
Together, that’s 74% of the population polled… seems like a pretty good number to use as an example.
So, imagine if you had a coworker and no idea of their New Year’s Resolution. In the hall way, they approached you with the following:
“Hey, let me tell you what I have planned next year. I am going to start by waking up at 5:00 in the morning. What I have learned is that when you work out in the morning, you tend to be more consistent. I also am going to join a gym and have a workout buddy. I’ve heard that having an accountability buddy helps. I also am going to attempt to cut out sodas, I really don’t need them. And, except for weekends, which I am going to allow myself to splurge, I am going to start eating more fish and vegetables. I need your help – can you help me do this?”
Is it clear what they are focused on? Do they want to start waking up earlier? Do they what to start working out more? Do they want to stop eating red meat? What is the main point?
Now, what if that same person started the conversation with:
“Hey, over the next 12 months I want to eat better and start exercising more so that I can feel more confident in my work attire….”
And then they went into their plan – which one would be clearer to you and would you know whether or not you could help?
Exactly! So, do that with your business strategy. Simplify your opportunity so that your team can clearly see what you want to accomplish.
Second, Identify Where You’ll Need Their Help – Going back to the puzzle example above. Don’t just dump an idea on the table, take the puzzle cover and leave. Instead, paint a clear picture in a very simple way, and then, keep referencing the puzzle cover every time you discuss your goals, progress and results.
You will also want to specifically identify who can do what. This accomplishes two things: ownership and engagement. By identifying goals and assigning by your employee’s unique skill set, you make goals relevant and attainable. And once you are able to break your vision into achievable workloads, your vision becomes not only realistic, but tangible.
Using the “eat better and start exercising” example above, what if, after explaining they wanted to eat better and start exercising, your coworker told you their plan and then asked you, “Hey, I know that you eat a heavy fish and vegetable diet, do you think that you could share some of your recipes with me?”
Now, do you know specifically where your friend needs your help? Of course. So, do this for business to get better results.
Third, Get You Employees To Take Ownership – When business owners do not set clear expectations, their tendency is to jump in and get really involved in the process. Soon, the business owner is “over functioning,” which is just a nice way to say meddling in everything and not being able to let anyone do their job without constant involvement.
You want the best results from your employees and the best way to get the results you want is to measure, measure, measure the outcomes you want. But this does not mean constantly monitoring or directing every step. That is not letting your employees take ownership.
Instead, try taking this approach. Tell them that you will need them to take ownership in the work that you’ve identified. Next, ask them to update you weekly and explain that you will only need three updates from them:
1) What’s changed from the last time we met?
2) How does that impact our timeline?
3) What additional resources do you need?
That’s it. Based on that information, you should be able to give them sound advice and help them make a decision to keep the project moving forward.
Ok, to close out, let’s go back one last time to the weight loss example. Let’s assume that following the “can you help me do this question,” you said, “sure.” But in order for me to be helpful, I will need to know what your meal plan is now, how often you eat out, what type of meals you like, and if you want my help in determining what additional recipes you need. How about each week we cover these three questions and then I can best help you reach your goal?
Now, you know clearly what your friend wants to accomplish, what they want from you, and what piece they would like you to own.
If you have found these tips helpful, we are offering a free 4-part training to help you learn a system that makes the work of a “New Year’s Resolutions for Business” easier.
If you’re interested, go here to register.
As for your personal New Year’s Resolutions, sorry…I can’t be much help with that.
Simplify and Grow – Make next year your best ever!
Favorite Quote: “Success is getting what you want. Fulfillment is giving what you’ve got.”
Carey Rome is a businessman extraordinaire. He is a recovering CPA, with an amazingly in tune right brain. (He knows how to use it, powerfully) Carey is an avid podcast listener, gaining in knowledge to help you grow your business. He is not ignoring you! He is gaining powerful insights!
What Carey Does: We help business leaders to make their growth plans happen.
Carey Rome is the creative, futuristic, type with visionary skills. So, he utilizes a system they developed called addux, Addux allows Carey and his team to build and layout, 12 Month roadmaps, that are simple, actionable and practical. From here, his team helps coach clients in driving the results they desire.
What Makes Carey Rome and Addux Different: 92.3% of businesses do not have a good system. They have trouble pushing strategy down into their organization simply, and they struggle managing strategy. We have a proven system for that. That makes us unique in our space.