Entry By Jason Brick
One facet of business ownership is that the small details of the daily grind can be overwhelming. For many entrepreneurs, this means focusing on the little things at the expense of long-range and conceptual planning. This focus on tactics rather than strategy not only affects your company’s growth – it can make running the business less fun and rewarding.
No matter how much of energy your everyday tasks demand, it’s important to step out and look at your company from what productivity guru David Allen calls the “10,000-foot view.” Like a submarine captain peeking through his periscope, this occasional look at the landscape will keep your company on course.
The View From Above
Allen calls this the 10,000-foot view because he likens it to looking at a region from an airplane. On the ground, terrain and buildings prevent you from seeing the larger picture. Looking down from above makes the land look like a map. As with all maps, this makes it easier to plot a course.
In your business, the 10,000-foot view takes the largest pieces of your business and your most important goals, and checks to make certain they serve one another.
Large-framed goals are at the core of this level of business analysis – the destination show on your map. When setting or analyzing goals, it’s important to frame them in a way your people can understand and act upon. To do this, your goals must be:
Concrete – they must define as clearly as possible what success looks like
Reasonable – they must be possible for your team to achieve with the resources you give them
Immediate – even if the end result is long-term, benchmark steps should be reachable within weeks or months
Measurable – they must have some kind of numerical metric to help track progress and effectiveness
Goals lacking these traits are difficult to act on, plan for or hold staff accountable to. Because of this, they also tend to end up incomplete.
The best metrics have a number attached to them – in most cases, a date or an amount.
Amount-based metrics are great for production and sales-based projects. Examples include increasing sales by 50 percent, or producing 15,000 units.
Date-based metrics work well for binary projects – those that are either finished or not finished. A presentation ready by the 5th of the month, or a new hire ready to go within two weeks of starting are two examples of this kind.
Many goals can use both types of metric, for example producing 15,000 units by the 1st of June. Whenever possible, applying both to a project gives any strategic goal the best chance for success.
It can be a challenge to find time for this kind of high-level review when you’re trying to run a company, but it’s vital that you do so. Even if it means working late a few nights a month, you’ll find that this occasional session will save your company time, effort and money over the following quarters. It’s a short-term investment of time and effort that will pay dividends down the road.