I have historically run my businesses the way most people do; I set big goals, determine how to track progress towards them, write out detailed action plans, and schedule regular reviews.
It feels pretty stinkin’ good when we hit our goals, but sometimes we don’t. And by the time we’re fully realized it, the window of opportunity for hitting those goals has already passed. It’s like navigating with a GPS that only tells you whether you made the right turn or not.
Of course, you can try to compensate for that by breaking your big goals down into smaller goals or milestones (i.e. if my annual revenue goal is $12M, then my monthly goal is $1M), and perhaps reviewing results more frequently.
This gives you the benefit of knowing earlier whether your missing your target, and allows you to adjust your strategy accordingly, but you’re still navigating based on the past instead of the future. In other words, your measurements lag your desired result.
But what if your measurements could predict your results?
What if, when you’re reviewing your progress towards your goals, you could also tell in advance with reasonable certainty whether or not you’d hit your goal? This has been the missing piece for me, and it’s revolutionizing the way I run my businesses.
“How is this foretelling of the future possible, EntreMerlin?” you ask. It’s so simple, I’m almost embarrassed it’s taken me this long to get it. (I owe thanks to my good friend David DeWolf, and “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” for introducing me to this framework.)
Step 1: Identify the specific goal you are trying to hit.
Step 2: Determine the habits or predictive outcomes that have a discernible impact on your goal.
Step 3: Set up a stupid-simple system for measuring these habits or predictive outcomes (i.e. a “scoreboard”)
Step 4: Review frequently
Here’s how we are implementing this in our music school…
Step 1: We decided that our wildly important goal for the school in 2016 is add 200 students to the roster. Although we have a number of other goals this year, this is the “one goal to rule them all” and is where the majority of our focus will be. Also, by accomplishing this goal, all of our other goals will be easier to reach.
Step 2: We know that there are 2 key levers for accomplishing this:
- Acquire more students, and
- Keep more of the students we already have.
Focusing on these two areas, we identified the habits and predictive outcomes required to make this happen.
Acquire More Students
– Generate an average of 28 new leads per month in 2016.
– Maintain our current lead-to-customer conversion rate of 81% or better
– Respond to all leads within 2 business hours
– Schedule new lessons within 1 business day after assessment
Lower Student Attrition Rate
– Follow up with each student within 1 business day of the first lesson.
– Follow up with each student between 4-6 weeks after first lesson.
Each of these habits or predictive outcomes are owned by 1 person on the team, and while they may draw others in to accomplish specific tasks, they are ultimately responsible for achieving the predictive outcomes and establishing the habits that they own.
Step 3: Then we created a scoreboard to measure these specific habits and outcomes. This is version 0.1, and we’ll be revising it over the coming weeks so that it clearly communicates whether we’re winning or losing at a glance. For now, though, it allows us to see where we stand with a little bit of effort. (You’ll notice a few extra measurements on our dashboard. We’d like to track these items, but may ultimately decide not to track them here. We’ll be making that call in a couple of weeks.)
These are updated by the team members responsible for the habit / predictive results weekly.
Step 4: We meet every week to review our scoreboard, to make commitments towards achieving our big goal, and to give an account for our previous weeks commitments. We spend between 15-30 minutes each week, and this is arguably the most valuable 30 minutes of each week. It builds team work, provides accountability, and keeps us focused on our most important priority.
We’re in the early stages of this at the music school, so results are forthcoming. But I can say that we’ve never believed in a big goal like this as much as we do now.
The result feels inevitable, and this process is infusing us with a sense of unified purpose. Although this particular method is new to me, 1,000’s of amazing organizations have used it to become powerhouses and achieve amazing things.
If you want to go deeper on this subject, read Sean Covey’s fabulous “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.”
And if you haven’t joined our EntreFamily Facebook group, jump in with us and let us know how you’re implementing this in your business.