The Lucky 100 – How Big Can This Thing Get?

Expanding CircleMaybe you started off as a startup. Or perhaps you joined a venture team in a giant corporation. No matter what kind of founders were in that first circle, if you’ve been successful, you’ve been growing. Congratulations. You’ve surmounted all sorts of challenges by now. So why does it suddenly feel so…difficult?

That exciting, innovative, exploring feeling just doesn’t seem to be there any more. It’s not like the old days, when you could gather all these stakeholders into one small circle (and in fact, some of them were wearing two or more of the hats). Now you can’t seem to get the kind of cohesive idea-making you once did. So maybe you’ve made a few decisions within the inner circle, and you’ve been rewarded with pushback, complaints, or alienation.

Our experience is that the lucky 100 is a time of huge growing pains. Each time you hit that number, whether it’s when your team grows to 100, or your circles total another 100, or you add 100 new customers, something great happens. And yet…you need an adjustment. Not necessarily a reboot, but a new assortment of tools, or how you use the ones you have, to make it easier to learn from each other, communicate, and collaborate.

Fortunately, there are a host of great techniques, tools, and templates that have been developed to make this possible. They work for all sorts of groups, teams, and organizations, be they public, private, or not-for-profit. You’ve heard from us before about how excited we were to be part of making the Conteneo Decision Engine work for Participatory Budgeting. We can put this, and a host of other very useful implements, to work for you as well. As we help you reconnect everyone, you’ll start to recapture that feeling of being on top of it all, when you were still in the small circle. Before you know it, you’ll start to wonder if there’s any limit to just how big the ideas can get.

 

 

 

Finding Our Way to “Yes”…

yes-no-maybeYou’re probably familiar with the expression, “Just Say No”. It’s a valid expression, and there are times when it’s exactly the right fit. If you find yourself taking on projects that don’t interest you, or that someone else is foisting off on you because of their own lack of interest, or you’re already overwhelmed, a firm but gentle “no” can come in handy.

Our question is this: if you’re in the latter group, and you’re saying “no” because you’re overwhelmed with other responsibilities, we’d like to ask you to reconsider. You may still say “no”, but before you do, make sure what you’re rejecting isn’t a more important opportunity than one of those current over-commitments.

This month our theme has been all about fresh starts and new beginnings. We’ve set some great goals for ourselves and our business, and we’re focused on delivering more facilitation, which our customers say they need, and coaching, which we’re also asked to do with increasing frequency. What that means is that opportunities sometimes come along that are just where we’d like them to be. But we’re busy. Or they’ll stretch us. Or we’re tired. You understand, we’re sure. So how can we deal with that?

We’re practicing finding our way to “yes”. In fact, to “YES!” or “YES, PLEASE!” There are several actions and behaviours we’ve taken on to make that happen. Hint: we’re a partnership, so we always have someone to help keep to the path we’ve set, so first, do this:

Find yourself an accountability buddy.

Here are some of the things we’ve held each other accountable for, this January, with a few links to help nudge you in the right direction:

  1. If one of us says “no” to an opportunity simply because we’re feeling a bit overloaded with responsibility, the partner helps us decide whether there isn’t something less important we can drop.
  2. When “no” is the answer because the thing is a stretch, we look for pieces or parts of the work that we’ve done before, or similar situations where we’ve already been successful. And remember it’s supposed to be hard if you’re upleveling.
  3. In cases where we’re leaning to “no” because there’s too much uncertainty, we err on the side of “tell me more” before rejecting what might be a big chance, out of hand.
  4. On the occasion when a networking or exploring event presents itself, and we have nothing else scheduled in that timeslot, we default to “yes”.
  5. Given a chance to do something fun that might lead to an opportunity, although we can’t yet see how, “yes” is now our answer.

January’s nearly over, and we hope you’re moving toward those big goals you set for yourself over the eggnog and fruitcake. We encourage you to find your way to “yes”. And if you need an accountability coach to help you do that, give us a call. Sometimes an investment in yourself is just what you need.

Moving you and your business in the right direction,

Megann and Steve

 

Never Look Back?

Start of 2015

A lot can happen in a year, and while we’re all for a certain amount of nostalgia, spending too much time looking back can hinder our ability to move forward. Still, a little stock-taking is worth it, before moving on.

Look at that deck. That’s where we were around this time last year. Buried. We were surrounded by beautiful countryside but frankly, the environment was better suited to retirement than the active life we really want. In 12 months, we made a decision to relocate our business, sold a house, bought a condo, and moved halfway across the country. Now, high about ground level, the chances of us having snow up over our windows is pretty remote.

How did we figure out that this was the right move? And moreover, how did we figure out how to get here? We used the same tools we would have used with clients facing the same sort of life and business challenges. From goal-setting to action plans, we thought very carefully about where we wanted to go.

Step one was to establish the future state, or as we sometimes say, “where we wanted to be when we grew up.” Lists and discussions – how do we like to live? What kind of work do we need to do? Where are the clients? What’s our purpose? Having established a picture that included those things, we needed to figure out how to get there. One tool that helped here was to look backwards…sort of. We played a game called “Remember the Future.” Our friend Luke Hohmann came up with it – seeing yourself, your product, or your company in a future state and then working backwards to determine the milestones that will get you there. His company, Conteneo, has a host of great tools that facilitators like us, use to help people and companies navigate the sometimes winding and branching paths to where they need to be.

Before we knew it, we had a roadmap of key tasks that needed to happen. Sell the house. Find a new space. Organize the move. Fit it all around our current commitments. And we did it. Step two: just get started. Put one foot in front of the other and start moving toward the milestones. Some took longer, some were easy, some were a challenge. But here we are. Join us on our journey – and if you or your company need help getting where you want to go, get in touch. It would be our pleasure to help.

Eyes to the future, with nowhere to go but up…

Megann and Steve

225 Sackville Street from the Ground

A few reminders about getting there

  1. Figure out your purpose.
  2. Set a big goal.
  3. Determine a time you want to arrive.
  4. Look back and see the steps it took to get there.
  5. Start moving.

Good luck, and here’s to a purpose-filled, prosperous and productive 2016.

 

Are You Making Hay While the Sun Shines on Your Business?

From the LookoffOn the weekend we took a drive down to the Valley – our local agricultural mecca, where farms stretch as far as the eye can see. Everywhere we turned there were busy folks from the city, wanting to relax from their busy work schedules and take in the pastoral landscape, kicking back, and dreaming of the country life. Imagine it…just living by the rhythm of the seasons.

It made us smile.

The fact is, there’s precious little downtime for farmers in any season. But certainly we could all take a lesson from them on work-life balance, especially if we’re salespeople, entrepreneurs, or anyone else whose living depends on building business. And it’s this: when there’s work to be done, they work. Hard.

Oh sure, they might complain from time to time. But by and large they understand all too well that whether it’s planting, weeding, watering, or harvesting, it needs to be done, and it won’t wait. Moreover, it doesn’t always arrive in easy, manageable increments. It’s the planting that leads to the harvest. It’s weeding that keeps profitable crops from being overtaken. And there’s a reason why they make hay while the sun shines. Because they must. So the next time we’re complaining because there’s too much to be done, we’re going to give a thought to the farmer. And when it’s the opposite, we’re going to

  1. Appreciate the downtime, and
  2. Use it to do everything we can prepare for the next harvest, which will come as surely as the summer sun.

Hard at work,

Megann and Steve

Take Time to Save Time

A schedule change in the morning can throw off your whole day. That’s why prioTime Management Listritizing what’s important is a vital part of our “winding down” time at the office. We’re pretty sure you’ve experienced one of those days that have gone from manageable to jam-packed in a heartbeat. So can do you manage?

One of the best tools we use is to identify our lifeboat task. What’s that, you ask? If everything goes awry, right out of the gate, and you can only save one task to bring in the lifeboat with you, which task is absolutely vital? That’s your lifeboat task.

How do we use it in practice?

  1. First, at the end of your day, make the list of all the things you need to get done for tomorrow.
  2. Rearrange in order of importance.
  3. At the top of the list, write your lifeboat task. Think carefully about the task. It should be a task that takes you toward your most important objective. (Remember important is not the same as urgent – it’s likely your lifeboat task is both. Check out Stephen Covey’s Urgent-Important Time Matrix.)
  4. In the morning, remind yourself of your lifeboat task. If that’s the only thing you do, other than go to meetings, fight fires, and herd cats, commit to getting it done.
  5. Do whatever’s necessary to make it happen.
  6. Forgive yourself if you have to let go of some of the the other things on your list.

It might seem counter-intuitive to use time to save time, but in the long run, this will help keep you from getting distracted by tasks that get you nowhere.

Throwing you a lifeline,

Megann and Steve

Why time with dear old Dad may be time well spent…

Time Management
Success-oriented managers are often telling us they wish they had more time. Or they tell us they wish they knew how to get more time. All that equates to wishing they could cram more into their day. And usually, that means their work day. No matter how much time they save on one task, we frequently see them trying to simply fit in another. We were reminded by an article we read in HBR today, that it’s really energy, and not hours, that is important to being super-productive. So while you are trying to find a way to schedule one more task here and another obligation there, it’s vital to think about what is really important in your life. Where’s your joy? What gives you energy?

One way lots of winners recharge is by spending time with their families. So although Father’s Day is just around the corner, perhaps it’s a good idea to make a point of prioritizing family time, all the time. The authors of the HBR article, Tom Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy say it can be good for your career health and a real source of energy. It’s tempting to use every new captured moment to do more work. The great Harry Chapin’s song, Cat’s in the Cradle, is a good reminder why spending a little of that hard-earned time on yourself and your family might be the best plan. So whether you’re a father, or you have a father, invest in your family, and have a more productive day because of it.

Fully recharged,

Megann and Steve