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.

 

Did you Win? Or Did you Learn?

Learn to fail. Fail often. FaiSuccess vs Failure.pngl fast. Does this sound familiar? Failure is the current focus in many schools of “entrepreneurial thinking”. We contend that it is of no consequence whether you failed – rather, it’s what you learned that’s important. For us, “You win or you learn” is the key to keeping going when things don’t turn out quite as we had anticipated.

Seeking the “why” of any outcome will build your understanding of the processes, paradigms, or procedures that got you there. That kind of insight will improve your future outcomes, regardless of whether you won – or learned.

Keep asking questions,

Megann and Steve

Our Time is on Your Side

How time flies when you’re busy! Those critical product management tasks you’ve ProductCamp_Atlantic_2015been meaning to tackle just keep slipping lower and lower on the to-do list. So are they not that critical after all? Or are you putting your roadmap in jeopardy?

We’ve all been there. When we sat down with Allan Neil (@allanneil) of Ready Product Radio for this interview, we were busy working with our partners to put on the second annual Atlantic ProductCamp. We were also moving our home office and our business halfway across the country. So we understand that sometimes you need to reach out for help. If you’re looking for a partner to help with customer understanding, mentoring, facilitation, planning, or marketing strategy, we can give you a hand with that. And if you’re a seasoned Product Manager looking to strike out on your own and go freelance, we’ll tell you that it’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re not afraid of hard work with a side of rejection, it can be the best career move you’ll ever make.

We hope you’ll check out our interview with Allan. And while you’re at Ready Product Radio, check out some of the other Product Management professionals that have been interviewed as well. There’s a goldmine of advice, help, and encouragement inside.

Continued success,

Megann and Steve

This October, Make a Gratitude Adjustment

CornucopiaThanksgiving It seems October is a busy month, whatever your business. Farmers are busy preparing for winter. Teachers are halfway through the term, and checking kids’ progress. Businesses are working hard to make the last quarter a profitable one. Sound familiar? All around us, an abundance of things to do. Yet we still hear plenty of complaints.

It’s our plan to do our part by taking a gratitude adjustment. We’re remembering all the great things we have going on this autumn, like ProductCampAtlantic15, or EngageHalifax. It’s about the people and companies who we work with or who have supported us in our projects and our business. We’re healthy, busy, and surrounded by gorgeous views and smart people every single day. For that, we’re truly thankful.

So if you’re feeling busy, overloaded, challenged, good for you. We hope you’ll take it all in stride with an attitude of gratitude this October. While you’re at it, consider giving something back. Your local Food Bank might be a good place to start.

Gratefully yours,

Megann and Steve

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