Hello again, it’s me. Back from my self-imposed or should I say self involved sabbatical. I ran out of things to say there for a while (I find we all do that sometimes) and faced with reprinting other people’s material, re-treading my own, or clamming up I chose the latter for three months. I must admit some guilt every time I passed my computer on my way to watching football or playing my guitar, but never enough to actually sit down and write something. So, here I am again, with a (hopefully) simple message.
Once upon a time I had a girlfriend who told me about how her father got hit by a trolley car when he was a kid. Obviously, he was OK as he grew up to father children, but the story goes like this: he and his mother had just come from the shoe store where he had gotten a new pair of shoes. He was enthralled by how shiny they were and kept looking down at them. His mother implored him to pay less attention to his new shoes and more attention to where he was walking. They came to a busy street corner, he stepped off the curb whilst looking at his shoes and …. well you know the rest, he got hit by a trolley car.
Why do I bring this up now? WPA, the company I started with a great group of intrepid and committed people just celebrated its 1 year anniversary. The enterprise is going gangbusters and dare I say, is more successful in one year of operation than my previous company was in ten years. I could attribute this to any number of factors and there are a lot at work here. But, when it comes right down to it, it’s about the people involved. They all have vision, commitment and ambition, both personal and collective. As a group, we’ve flourished.
There have been challenges for sure. There was and still is a learning curve of how to work together for the common good. There have been control issues (mostly mine) and the fits and starts of implementing a new and innovative team system of representation and corporate culture. I’m very proud of everyone involved and what we’ve accomplished together.
What does this have to do with shiny new shoes? Only everything. It would be so easy to sit back, look at what we’ve done and be delighted. But, to keep staring at the glow of our shiny shoes would be to invite a trolley car to run us over. So, instead we are looking ahead.
“Yesterday’s home runs won’t help you win today” – Babe Ruth
Too true. As we start to plot a course for 2012, we’re asking ourselves a lot of questions. What were the successes and why? Where did we fall down and why? Both sets are tough to answer, but are equally important. I personally have been taking a lot of time to plot goals and strategy. Here’s what I have found: I’ve been very bad in the past at plotting goals and strategy. Here’s why: I haven’t ever spent enough time doing it. I’ve always just sat down and written it out, then moved on. This time, I’m writing, considering, coming back to it a few days later, suddenly adding insight when I have an inspiration. It’s been a process of several weeks now and I can tell I’m not done yet.
Setting goals are one thing. Adding a detailed strategy to achieve them is quite another. I just read “Great By Choice” by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen. I found it to be a fantastic system of goal setting and strategy. The basic techniques are: set your goal, figure out how you’re going to get there with a SMaC recipe. These are actions to be taken that are Specific, Methodical and Consistent (SMaC) and are then formed into what they call a “twenty mile march.” A march you do day in, day out, week by week, year by year.
It has opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about goals. In short, there’s an accountability mechanism built in. Because, you’re either marching or you’re not. You’re either advancing on your goals or you’re not. You have a specific list of actionable steps or you don’t. I recommend this read.
So then, what’s next for WPA? You’ll have to keep reading. I can tell you we won’t be caught staring down at our shiny shoes. This is Hollywood, the trolley cars don’t just pass by, they’re aiming for you.