Many years ago I learned to fly. I was actually 16 years old at the time. It was a tremendously freeing experience that also taught me discipline. It shocked me how easy it was to fly. What was complicated was all that had to be understood and acted upon when a problem arose.
Also, to have the freedom to fly, it was necessary to master the instruments and know how to read them, otherwise I would only be able to fly in clear weather. In other words, without being able to use my instruments, clouds would force me to land or never to allow me to take off. I would be unable to land at very busy airports like the Chicago O’Hare Airport airspace.
Eight primary instruments would help me fly with competence. For example, the altimeter measured height above sea level; airspeed indicator shows healthy airspeed above stall speed; the turn and bank indicator indicated if my wings were level; attitude indicator showed if I was nose up or nose down or level, etc.
As I obtained my license and began to fly friends, the seriousness of competence became very powerful. It was not like a football game where if I ran the wrong route with the ball, we could simply run another play to attempt again to go for a first down or to get a touchdown. If I “ran the wrong route” in an airplane, I could kill us.
When I entered the business world, I looked at being in business like a game, like football. If we did it wrong, we could try another way in an attempt to succeed.
As I get older though, I realize that business is more like flying a plane. Physically, being in business rarely has anything to do with death, dismemberment or crashes. However, business is here to teach and provide people with opportunities and hope. If they do not see, understand or attempt to use those opportunities, people have a tendency, very slowly and incrementally, to die inside. They are responsible for their life, but I as a leader have a responsibility to help teach them an awareness of opportunity, and help them to grow their confidence to take advantage of opportunity (for their own good, for their team and for the health of the business).
So, in other words, “flying an airplane” and all of the seriousness attached to it, is also similar to “flying your business”. While flames and death are part of an airplane crash, loss of creativity and hope, lessening of teamwork and an inability to build towards a better future are part of a business crash.
Especially with the economic events of the last few years, some of the failures of business have gotten more dramatic. It has been challenging going through the wrenching struggles with some of our clients where they have begun to question their own values and beliefs in running their business. They do not want to lay off good employees that they had committed to, and have to answer questions to outside authorities that are unrealistic and impractical.
Our “program” that we have developed with clients over the last 25 years is proving itself in this current economic environment, yet, at the same time, I am realizing that I should have challenged our clients more and had them move faster on their path to their future.
With clients where strategic planning has been critical, one of the outputs is The Monitoring Meeting where we track progress towards Key Strategies that support Key SMAART Goals.
The question that is most important in these meetings: is the Key Strategy working to get us closer to the Key SMAART Goals by improving the metrics? In other words, are we hitting our long-term smaller monthly goals in our quest to achieve our 5 or 10 year Key SMAART Goals and our Vision. In our strategic planning meetings, part of our time invested was to identify predictive KPI or metrics that would show if our strategy was working or if we needed to adjust how we were “flying the plane”. For those of you that use the term KPI (Key Performance Indicator), by definition, metrics is the same as a KPI, however, I have seen a number of people use KPI tactically, whereas, I am interested in more strategic predictive measures.
The metrics, if I use the analogy of an airplane, indicate if our wings are not level, if we are near stall speed, if… etc. If we have four Key SMAART Goals, usually, there will be eight Key Strategies and therefore, eight metrics. Additionally, we like to differentiate between historical metrics and predictive metrics. Obviously, the predictive metrics are more valuable (it is like looking through our windshield rather than over focusing on the rearview mirror).
To simplify The Monitoring Meeting and keep it to a 45 minute time frame, we focus on the eight metrics.
As a side note, one reason these meetings move quickly is that if they are facilitated well, everyone gets the data on the strategies and metrics a few days ahead of time, so there should already have been some brainstorming and discussion on the “Yellow” and “Red” metrics. The “Green” should be celebrated.
Recently I read a book called Execute Without Drama by Patrick Thean. In it, he does a great job reminding us about some of the wisdom of tracking the right metrics:
Putting scores on subjective areas will make them more objective resulting in less drama. For example, your team buys into the long-term business vision might be seen as a “8” How do we get it to a “9”?
If your business is a hobby, where you only need to fly in good weather, you do not need to have a good instrument panel (however, if it were me, I would still use one).
Or, your business, like mine, may have become a serious endeavor where you as a leader have a responsibility to help teach your team an awareness of opportunity, and help them to grow their confidence to take advantage of opportunity (for their own good, for their team and for the health of the business). Then you need a great instrument panel!
To learn more about our unique process for Business Leaders called The Comprehensive Independence Builder, in which we address all of the obstacles you face and then help you use innovative strategies to protect and enhance your business, improve your quality of life and better achieve your goals.
To schedule The CIB Exploration Session or for more information on our process, please contact us at 800-786-4332, or firstname.lastname@example.org. To get started immediately, visit our website at www.appliedvisionworks.com and download our starter kit.
Donald F. Hadley, CFP, ChFC, MSM