Take Time for Strategy

December 19, 2011

Filed under: General — Luis A. Martinez @

When was the last time that you worked on your business?  Not in your business.  On your business.  Oh, you don’t have a business?  Well, if you don’t have a business, just pretend that you are the business.    Have you been passed over for a promotion?  Did you fail to close that big deal?  Have you been three times a finalist after the interviews, but first runner up?  It’s time for strategy.

 

Many readers will be making New Year’s resolutions.   That’s okay. I’m sure you can sit down with a cup of coffee and come up with a half a dozen New Year’s resolutions – but wait, there’s more.  I’m thinking more like investing as much as one week or 10 days of really assessing where you’ve been this year, and where you’d like to be at the end of next year, 3 years, or even 5 years.  This is not about making a bucket list of activities – people to see, things to do.  As Michael Porter says: “Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.”

 

How will you be different next year?  How will your business be different?  Let’s get you started:

  • Your first New Year’s resolution should be to take time for strategy.
  • Sit down with your business partners, leadership team or family and tell them that you have to take some time, a few days at least, to go off and think about the paths you’ve traveled and make some plans about the future direction.
  • You don’t have to go to an expensive place.  You can retire for a few days to your nearest public library.  Take this opportunity to visit a few libraries in your area.  Get to know the Information Desk professional; they have studied about how to help you most effectively; they have an arsenal of information – all free.
  • Ask members of your Board of Advisors to meet with you; ask your coach for some perspectives.
  • Even if you don’t have a business this can be an investment in your own professional development – learn more about yourself and your potential.  If you decide to take some college courses, then ask yourself to what end are you taking those courses?

 

A rudimentary strategy is better than none at all.  A strategy is part of your internal guidance system, part of your core, part of your brand – and it’s important that you be aligned with it.  I love this quote from Michael Porter in his Billion Dollar Ideas blog: “The best CEOs are teachers, and at the core they teach strategy, by going out to employees, to suppliers, and to customers, and repeating, “This is what we stand for, this is what we stand for!”

Someone said: “Visualizing is a dream, but if you put it on the calendar – it’s a plan.”  So, when are you taking time for strategy?

Don’t Lift!

December 5, 2011

Filed under: General — Luis A. Martinez @

In sports car racing when we talk about “lifting” we mean lifting your foot off the gas pedal just before braking for a corner.  The opposite of lifting is going flat out, pedal-to-the-metal (where the accelerator pedal is pinned to the metal floor).  This topic is about the propensity many of us have of “lifting” during the month of December.

If you are unemployed or self-employed looking for your next potential customer you may be tempted to have these thoughts, “Well, I think that companies are winding down for the year; they are taking it easy, cruising towards the holidays, so I’ll just kick back and wait for the new year.”  Isn’t that what we say to ourselves?  Isn’t that what we tell our spouses and friends?

Big mistake.

December is not the time to lift.  Here’s why: Have you talked to sales professionals?  Guess which is their busiest month?  If their employer has a fiscal year ending on December 31, they are working day and night to finish the year with a rise in their top line sales volume.  Their companies have accounted for every sales day, and they expect over-the-top results in December.  They are racing flat- out,  pedal-to-the-metal-and-steer!

In December we must maintain the same sense of urgency as our prospects.  If, on the other hand, we become complacent in December believing that everyone else is slowing down, here’s the likely outcome:

  • The senior leadership teams of our prospect companies are still racing towards the finish – for a good / better / best sales year.
  • Their sales professionals are pulling all the stops, collecting all the IOU’s and favors so they can finish a strong year and improve their own bonus payout.
  • In addition, those who are self employed or looking for work who don’t lift in December are busy making plans to meet and network with their prospect companies not only for December, but also for January.
  • In short, their eyes are still on the finish line  – they’re not lifting in December.

On the other hand, if you lift in December you’ll find out – in January – that not only didn’t you make any meetings in December, but you have none scheduled for January.  Why?  Because you lifted in December.  So you lost not one, but two months of effectiveness.

For December you have to have a sense of urgency.  In fact, you have to meet or exceed the sense of urgency you see in your prospective company.

As John Kotter says in his book, A Sense of Urgency, “At the very beginning of any efforts to make changes of any magnitude, if a sense of urgency is not high enough…everything becomes so much more difficult.”

The holidays in December are not an opportunity to become complacent.  The race is not over.  We must stay on the gas: pedal-to-the-metal-and-steer!

 

In December, don’t lift…

 
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