The Law of Focus states that no element in the universe is as powerful when dispersed as it is when focused. This law supports the second part of Focus in Escaping Groundhog Day Management—your ability to follow through on your plan. It doesn’t make any sense to write a great plan and then forget about it until you write the next one.
Does this mean you blindly follow through on your plan even when circumstances clearly dictate you should alter your course? Absolutely not! Every smart business owner knows he has to be willing to “call an audible” when he sees his current strategy will get thrown for a loss if he doesn’t. It’s when the owner is constantly changing direction and not following through on any of his plans that he gets in trouble. When this happens nobody in the organization knows where the company is headed next. Employees don’t have a chance to produce the results the company needs, so the company never gains traction on achieving its goals, even when those goals are things as fundamental as delivering consistent quality, retaining good employees, or achieving healthy cash flow.
As I mentioned in Part II of this series, E-Drift can play a big part in an owner constantly changing directions. Understand your personality makeup and determine if you have a predisposition to E-Drift. Keep in mind that E-Drift rarely announces itself. Instead, it leaks in quietly around our doors and windows and takes us by surprise. Before we know it we’ve drifted off course with our business, leaving the people within our companies confused about our ultimate destination. Then, rather than realigning ourselves with our original vision we tend to rationalize our drifting with elaborate logic. The tell-tale signs can be subtle.
Sometimes it shows up in companies that chase aggressive expansion in a quest for sales rather than profit (Jim Collins identifies this as one of the stages of business decline and refers to it as the undisciplined pursuit of more). We see it in the repeated shuffling of the personnel deck because of the owner’s impatience with the growth of his employees or with their hesitation to “get on board” with the new direction, even though it might be the fifth new direction this year.
If you have a small staff (less than ten people) make it a point to review your plan at least once a month to see how you’re doing. If you want to include some of your people in the review, it will help keep you honest with your follow through.
If you have a larger company, be sure to include your executive team and managers in the review process. You should meet monthly to check your overall progress, then quarterly to let your team report any advancement they’ve made on their accountabilities to the plan. The key is to stay focused throughout the entire year on achieving your written objectives.
Creating a structure for your meetings that includes an agenda, a published schedule, even assigning someone the accountability for organizing and sending out the meeting invitations will help to ensure your meetings take place on a consistent basis throughout the year. It will also help enormously with your ability to follow through.