In the previous three sections of this series we explored the introduction to ‘Smarter Start’ Business Planning, including the first catalyst ‘Energising your Planning Ecology,’ the second ‘Resonant Visioning’ and the third ‘Yes-No Planning’. We conclude with the final planning catalyst ‘Accountability Partnering’.
Planning Catalyst No. 4 – Accountability Partnering
You have your generative vision (and feel highly motivated by it), you have a plan with absolute clarity around the 20% you need to focus on.
Now it’s time to prepare yourself by embracing the world of reality. What are the inevitable barriers and problems you will face? You need to conduct a pre-mortem. You’ve heard of a post mortem – cutting something open to find out why it died, well a pre- mortem is to consider all the things that could kill your vision (and plan) before it gets off the ground.
What are the viruses that will inevitably undermine your intention?
Your own limiting beliefs? The market? The competition? Shuffling staff? Exchange rates? Your procrastination? … exhume everything.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. When you know what you’re up against, there will be no surprises.
This is where an Accountability Partner is so powerful.
What is an Accountability Partner?
Someone who holds you accountable to your vision, keeps you on track; they protect your focus. They are the electric fence that prevents you from meandering into the badlands beyond the 20%.
Some call them your secret weapon for quick growth or your best business asset. Others, call it your voice of un-reasonability.
It is good to have a couple: one internal and one external to your business . Whether internal or external, you need someone who
- Will be (brutally) honest with you. You’re not looking for someone who will rescue,
fix or save you.
- Will ensure you honour the agreed consequences of non-‐fulfillmen Whether there is a financial risk (you owe me $500) or simply having to admit that you fell short.
- Complements your strengths and weaknesse You’re looking for someone who has the qualities you lack.
- You’d hate to disappoin Someone you respect.
Vulnerability + Accountability + Self Reflection = Focus and Action = Results
How could you apply this relationship?
- Each of you shares one goal you have set for the year and break it down into weekly step Stay in touch via email and phone three times a week: once to set a goal for the week, another time to check in to discuss progress and a final time to report on results.
- Each partner, separately, comes up with five ‘Challenge Questions’ that can be answered with either a number rating or a ‘Yes’ / ‘No’. At 5.00pm (or an agreed time) one will phone the other and both sets of five questions will be asked / answered. Answers get recorded on a spreadshee The call takes no more than five minutes. Examples of questions follow: “Have you told your wife you love her today? How many push-‐ups have you done today? How many sales calls have you made today? Rate your productivity out of 10” etc.
A business colleague has conducted over 9,000 workplace interviews across twelve industry sectors and asked each individual interviewee ‘What is the most pressing issue you face at work?’ The most popular answer was ‘overwhelm’; second was ‘stress’.
A Smarter Start business plan addresses both problems. In fact, it goes beyond that. It is not a plan you have to grind out. Most business plans get implemented through will-power, applying jut- jawed determination… which is exhausting.
The Smarter Start Business planning process reverses that. It
1) Accesses your innate driver [Resonant Vision],
2) Gives clarity to what you want to do (rather than have to do) and
3) Clarifies the de-energisers to jettison [Yes/No Planning] then
4) Ensures you achieve your ‘crucial 20%’ activities through tough-love [Accountability Partnering].
It is a twelve-month business plan that provides the rare combination of Knowing and Doing. Taking consecutive actions towards pre-determined goals gets you results.
Article written by our New Zealand Associate; Bruce Ross
Bruce of “Ignite Business Leadership” is a long-term experienced business coach, leadership expert and facilitator of energising workshops.