Hope is Not a Strategy: Realistic Goal Setting


Posted: September 13th, 2013

Category: How To

To succeed in business, you've got to be an optimist. But if that’s all you've got, frankly, you’re screwed; having a positive mental attitude gets you only so far. So while you may be dreaming of making it big, your dreams better be accompanied by some good old down to earth planning. While businesses strategies vary from industry to industry and each company operates in unique circumstances, there are hallmarks.

What you need to succeed are execution shortcuts " practices that create efficiency and enable your business to move faster than the competition.

Author Jeroen De Flander explores the concept in his new book, The Execution Shortcut: Why Some Strategies Take the Hidden Path to Success and Others Never Reach the Finish Line. He says these sorts of shortcuts enable businesses to succeed without losing 40 to 60 percent of the company’s financial potential along the way. Among the execution shortcuts you should embrace for your business:

  • Master of your mission. Everyone involved should know the focus and take everyday guidance from the overall company philosophy. All of your customer facing communications should come from that philosophy as well.
  • Hey! Is that an elephant in the room? In the classic business bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins advises company owners to hit the realities of adverse situations head on. This enables you to emerge stronger than ever " a mighty colossus to be reckoned with.
  • Time to close down the Motivation Station. Spending time trying to motivate people is a waste of time. Collins says the real question is not how you motivate your people, but how to build a team that is self-motivated. By the way, one of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality.
  • It’s habitual. Habits, good or bad, form the basis for much of our everyday activity. We generally wake up at the same time, take the same train, sit in the same chair day after day and eat the same sandwich. We also develop work habits, good and bad. Help your team build good habits and capitalize on the momentum of habits to automate your workers’ business processes.
  • Be a slave to the rhythm. The week has its ups and downs, highs and lows, and you need to run your company in a way that complements that rhythm rather than fights it. Figure in at least one company-wide strategy and check-in session per week. It may be a five-minute gathering, and it may be an out of office lunch. What works for one company may not be effective for another. Try a few different tactics until you determine the one that works best for your culture.
As your business grows, it will increase in complexity, meaning you’ll need to find new and better execution shortcuts. When new people come on board, especially in leadership positions, they bring their own ideas of organizational management. They may be enamored of processes, but processes can be roadblocks. You need to find a balance, so remember: keep it simple. Simplicity = a productive working environment. So don’t build obstacles.

As a business owner, learning is your number one job. Remain open to hearing about and adopting best practices and tools to improve strategy execution. And remain open to dropping strategies that are not in alignment with your larger mission. Try it all, and keep only what propels you forward.