If you don't stop frequently to check where you've been and where you're going, you won't get to the place you set out for.
Over the last month or more, our foundation director, Sue Dreitzler, and I have been defining our goals for 2009.
When we looked at our top goals - develop a social business center for four associated non-profits, open and support five micro enterprise businesses, build The Business of Good website and forum, relocate and functionalize our ministry center - it seemed overwhelming. But I suppose all dreams do.
Luckily, I remembered a business trick I learned in our peer group some years ago. I can no longer remember our teacher or the exact process, but I do still follow the theme of the teaching.
In the first column of a grid, we agreed on a goal for the year. For example, "Open the Social Business Center.
Then, in column two, we highlighted the key pieces of the strategy that would get us there. In the case of the SBC, it was:
- Work with interested non-profits to develop common needs and current costs
- Find and obtain a site
- Research all financial and legal options for developing the center most efficiently
As you may see, these strategies are still a bit daunting.
And so, as I was taught, we then broke each strategy down into manageable pieces; namely a column three titled "Last Week" and a fourth column titled "This Week."
Then, in a weekly meeting, Sue and I will fill in column three and four with a) what we did last week to achieve our goal via that particular strategy and b) what we are scheduled to do next week to move the ball forward.
Using SBC strategy 1 - "Work to determine common needs for the center" - we saw that last week I met with the directors of each non-profits interested in the concept and this week I put all the "gory details" of that meeting on a grid. Next week, I will distribute that grid to all parties to see if we got it right.
Yes, I'm embarrassed to do something so simple and obvious and then write to you as if it seems like "news." It's not, it's just basic blocking and tackling.
But I'd be more embarrassed to build a dream, such as the Social Business Center, without a fundamental, step-by-step plan. That's like building sand castles - they are pretty and get a lot of attention - but the first wave (and there will be many) puts lovely plans to sea.
My favorite advertising business mentor, Jim Johnson, often said, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." His wise advice taught me to plan carefully, lest I just drive around aimlessly.
Later, when faced with building a business from scratch, I added, "If you don't stop frequently to check where you've been and where you're going, you won't get to the place you set out for."