Even though we think we know what businesses need to focus on, I would argue that the issue behind the issue is about simple execution, systems and processes. What do I mean by that?
I would argue that one of the key problems that reduces the effectiveness of decision-makers is a poor system to create goals and a poorer one to monitor and evaluate performance on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis. It is all too easy to set goals and chase them yet lose sight of the real goal in the process. The result is we just might hit our so-called targets but don’t seem any the wiser. Or cleverer. Or richer. Or happier. Even worse, we probably won’t hit our so-called targets and I can almost guarantee that you won’t feel any the wiser. Or cleverer. Or richer. Or happier.
This is a pain. A pain for all of us doing our best to achieve. It is a pain for our families who see us seemingly succeeding (yet we feel like we are failing). The pain, I think, comes from a lack of balance. Great business profits; lousy home life. Great reputation; poor profits. Fantastic product reviews; too tired to enjoy the success.
The point is this. We need balance. We need clarity about what success looks and feels like. We need a simple yet hugely effective system to help us get on track and stay there.
It was this frustration that brought Adam and myself together to create the Check-in Strategy Journal. Fed up with working with MDs and CEOs who just weren’t quite getting it right (“Maybe next year…”), we were compelled to work on and develop a system. A process that would assist in clarifying and articulating business and private life goals while also providing a method for checking progress against goals on a week-by-week, month-by-month, quarter-by-quarter basis.
More importantly, the system works. It is nothing short of transformational. When applied! It works for our businesses, it works for those of our colleagues and clients. Yes, we are seeing staggering results. But this is not the result of some magic, silver bullet.
Results come from consistent, hard work. There are no short cuts.
The Journal provides a framework within which you can review and preview your actions. All based on the goals set up at the start of the Journal process. It works.
The underlying problem is not poor sales, people, and profits. These are symptoms. The underlying problem is not a lack of focus on strategy, marketing and teams, although these are what the successful are obsessed with. The underlying problem is a lack of a simple, systematic process to identify and articulate both business and personal goals along with a system to monitor and evaluate your performance.
The Planning section is a concentrated version of what you need to do to create and write down your plans and goals for the coming year. It is divided into two parts: Business Planning and Personal Planning.
The format has been used with literally thousands of businesses since Robert’s days at Warwick Business School and then at Cranfield. We use it because it works. It is simple. It focuses on key issues. It is in plain language and free of jargon. People who use it grasp the idea very quickly, apply it to their business and see buy-in and results.
This material has been used with everyone from peer-to-peer groups to boards of directors. It has been the centre-piece of everything from ﬁve-day board retreats to 40-minute immersives.
The exercises cover the key elements used with business directors to deﬁne and clarify their business and personal futures. We went straight to the heart of the matter and avoided using anything we did not feel was absolutely necessary.
The power is in the process of actually working through the worksheets. The power is in simplifying things and focusing on what really matters. This can be done in an hour or so or can become part of a company-wide, full-blown business planning exercise.
Most people choose to run through the planning worksheets on their own. The worksheets give a different slant on how they may already be doing business planning in their own business. Because of its focus on simplifying and focusing, it helps to clarify more complex planning systems. It highlights key tasks for the individual.
And what of execution?
The Journal section helps you map out, monitor and evaluate activities and performance on a day-by-day, week-by-week and quarter-by-quarter basis. Using a simple technique of preview and review, the journaler is able to evaluate and adjust goals and performance.
The result is improved attention to what really matters and improved results.