“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Those famous words from Stephen R. Covey seem so simple, and yet, there is often a chasm between knowing what it is we want to accomplish and having the best course of action to get there. When engaging in a new project, I take a five-part approach to creating a plan that helps my clients define the “main thing” and keeps them on a straight and narrow path to achieving it.
First: Identify the goal.
This can be a very simple or very complex task. A recent client of mine was desperate to leave their website development partner and called on me to recommend a new course of action. The initial goal in this case appeared to be a simple matter of “getting away” from a bad situation. In fact, it was more lofty – to build or license a web platform that would allow the client to grow their membership base, provide better customer service and increase the awareness of their organization through technological means. Had I simply recommended a different web provider from the one they were already with, they may well have felt that their “goal” had been achieved, only to find themselves with the same or similar sets of problems down the road. Identifying specific performance standards within their time frame and budgetary considerations was the true challenge.
Second: Identify the motive for attaining that goal.
As illustrated above, it’s the “why,” rather than the “what,” that ultimately influences our ability to make high-quality decisions. During the “brainstorming” or “discovery” phase of a new project, getting to the bottom of the motivations behind a goal can unlock numerous solutions and strategies that would otherwise have been invisible if a simple request like “get us out of here” is all that is being considered.
Third: Put your plan in writing.
This ensures that everyone is literally on the same page and provides a project compass, constantly reminding the team what they are striving toward and why.
Fourth: Evaluate and Report.
As convenient as it would be for people like me to waltz into a room, say a few inspirational words about revolution and “raising the bar,” and leave without actually being responsible for the results, I know that if I am going to see repeat business from my clients, my ideas need to work. Period. Reporting gives everyone the chance to follow along on each project’s path, making minor corrections where appropriate and major changes when necessary. At the completion of every consultation term, a final report is submitted combining the progress made throughout the term, a final “wrap-up” of what was accomplished and a long term projection for the future results to be expected. In addition to giving my clients something to bank on (in some cases, literally), it provides a solid platform from which to approach new challenges.
Fifth: Stay the Course.
Many of the projects I am hired to undertake have a lifespan beyond the term of my engagement. In these scenarios, abiding by the “compass” is all the more important, and having something physically in writing to help guide the vessel is a true asset. I check in regularly with my past clients to give encouragement, celebrate their success along the way and to develop long-term relationships that will give back again and again. We all need a cheerleader now and then, and nothing gives me more joy than seeing a great plan deliver exceptional results.
Please contact me today if you feel I can be of value to you or your organization!