Ideas come to business owners every day, some could be winning concepts but are not yet fully formed, and when implemented well, will make a massive difference to the business. When John F Kennedy made a declaration that America would, within a decade, take a man to the moon and return him safely to earth, nobody knew how; yet, a man stood there nine years later. What makes the difference between an idea that goes nowhere, and one that breaks new ground? Three things: Clarity of goal; targetted strategic action; and accountability.
No idea ever becomes real without real clarity, and planning of the actions needed, and then undertaking the work. Accountability makes that action plan more likely to be delivered; and delivered well.
What is Accountability?
“Account-ability” The ability to be held to account. The word presumes that being held to account is not something that just happens to you. It is an ability, and therefore one you can hone. You can improve and make your accountability to be truly effective for your business. As business owners, you are well aware of the importance of business strategy before committing or channelling all your energy to the venture. However, the “strategy” is much easier said than done; let`s face it, this is difficult, perhaps the hardest challenge in your business. Winning means keeping focused on the long-term vision. It also means sometimes making decisions based on imperfect information, always with the aim of maintaining the strategy on track.
Businesses owners have to be accountable. If it were straightforward, we would not be experiencing the abysmal failure rates we do see.
Whether you run a multi-site business, a small team in an enterprise or are are working on your own, getting your business strategy right is critical. We need to be able to validate our decisions and check they are the right ones early and often. Doing that well can dramatically reduce the likelihood of failure, or at least, you can be in a position to avoid a major setback.
While there`s no way to guarantee the success of any business, just as in sports winning every game in a season is very rare. There are strategies that you can implement to judge the viability of your new or existing venture. The three I recommend are these:
Firstly, re-evaluate, and confirm, your current position, objectively. It`s vital that you carefully examine your current situation so that you can have a firm understanding of the foundations on which the enterprise is reliant. (Recommended reading: “How to create certainty in six shrewd steps“)
Schedule regular meetings with your team (and with your external independent advisors and mentors) where together you can then examine the organisation`s current trajectory and approach. Make an informed decision on whether to pivot or stay the course. This process will ensure that you never settle for mediocrity. If you are in a mastermind group discuss the idea with them and listen to the insights that result. (Recommended reading: “How your Mastermind makes good business great“)
Secondly, stop making decisions solely on what ‘feels’ right, by ‘gut’ reaction. It is important not to ignore that, but your heart and your head must also have their say. Winning needs actionable metrics for your head and a sense of fun and purpose for your heart. Your guts might be great at coming up with superb ideas and assumption based on prior experience, but if actionable data do not support them, or if you would work away from your core purpose, then it`s all in vain. Moreover, this is why data collection is vital for strategy.
The metrics you choose to measure success matter, it is important that they be real, actionable and valuable to others. Sometimes these are hard to measure. That is not a reason to ignore them, choosing easier, more vanity based measures may give you false information. I can also make your decision making less robust. Taking decisions that are based on wrong metrics can steer you away from your purpose.
For instance, understanding how many people visit your website is relatively easy to achieve, identifying how many of them are relevant prospects, especially if they just visit and take no action this time, is much harder, but much more relevant to understanding your marketing success. The correct metrics will provide clarity in all your undertakings and even pinpoint some of your rules. Actionable metrics must also mean that you will take different action based on the parameters and you can plan that activity in advance of the results. That leads us on to the next point.
Finally, reduce the iteration time. When you are working strategically, you will have planned some steps towards your goal, or interim goal, and the completion of each phase means you can move the business forward to the next activity.
Designing great metrics means that you can have certainty about progress, but it has a great team that knows what to do, and what the conditions need to be (hence the metrics) to do it. That is about building collaborative success; either with your internal team or with a broader group that includes suppliers and associates. (Recommended reading: “The Journey to Collaboration“).
Great collaborations work faster because they do not need the overhead of coordination, in my opinion, it is the single most significant force for winning in any business.