February 11, 2021

Are You Completely Missing the Point?

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Trees, I’d like to introduce you to the forest. It is so easy to get caught up in the details and completely miss the bigger picture. You do it. I do it. Sometimes with significant obstacles in our lives and, more often, in the small.   

In business, this happens all the time. 80% of the effort goes into details that make up 5% of the outcome. 

What are some examples of this? 

  • Tweaking a new logo color 50 times within the same shade of blue 
  • Fussing over line-height in the text on a landing page (when it doesn’t change legibility)
  • Spending 6-8 months selecting new software that won’t help achieve the company’s goals
  • Hiring middle managers without evaluating current inefficiencies
  • Failing to launch a new website while each pixel is stressed over – but your existing website is ancient and hurting your brand
  • So many more!

None of These Things Are Bad on Their Own

You should care about excellence, being adequately staffed, and having a great design. But if you let that take up the bulk of your team’s energy in any given season, you are missing the forest for the trees. You can do so much work, and none of it will impact the outcome. Frequently, this is a cultural problem and infects lots of areas of a company. 

These distractions come from good intentions. Or it is born out of a desire for a large staff to be individually productive. It almost certainly is influenced by poor leadership. If your executive team doesn’t know what outcome they are aiming for, how will you? 

So, how do you set outcome-oriented goals? 

Simply saying we will grow 150% by Q4 isn’t enough to fully define your actions. Get specific! Let’s say you have a suite of video call tools. Your outcome statement might look like this; We will grow 150% by selling more of our service to 25-to 30-year-old teachers who are still teaching from home. 

The Ends Do Not Justify the Means

I am no Machiavellian – I don’t believe the ends justify the means – but we must know what result we want and aim for that. Of course, it isn’t just about the outcome. How you get that result is just as important – this where your values get to meet up with your goals to create the work. We will look into that a bit more tomorrow.

Practice Saying ‘It’s Good Enough’

“It’s good enough” sounds like a terrible mantra – and in many ways, it is. Sometimes it is the right next step. If what you already have is excellent, but you are waffling on that last 10%, it’s probably time to ship anyway. We should modify “it’s good enough” to “it’s good enough to push us toward our goal.”

If you set clear goals based on business outcomes, you can safely say when the work is good enough to move the needle in your business. 

Practicing this will help you reach those goals. I can’t stress enough that this is not a call to mediocrity. It is a splash of cold water because we all get caught up in the details and completely miss the big picture!

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