Monthly Archives: January, 2018

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

January 30th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Inspiration, Uncategorized 1 thought on “Where Do You Find Inspiration?”

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

Before answering that question, it’s important to note that there is a difference between inspiration and motivation. Motivation is external and compels you to do something. Inspiration is internal – something you feel.

As an example, three deaths by suicide served as the motivation behind writing the book, Business is ART and development of Plan Canvas, the strategy execution management (SEM) software that is based on the book.

Motivation isn’t inspiration

Those deaths were external events that triggered a desire to help others. It is a horrible means of motivation, but, sometimes, tragedy, or hitting rock bottom, is needed to motivate us to do something positive.

But the inspiration for creating these particular tools came from somewhere else. The book was literally conjured in a dream. The software was first envisioned as the table of contents for the book was being written, particularly when business as ART was laid out as a 12-step process (defined processes lend themselves well to being systematized).

So a more appropriate question might be….

HOW do you find inspiration?

An article at Inc. provides 25 simple ways to find inspiration. We really like this list. In fact, many of these same notions are included in Business is ART.

Find inspiration

Watch this demo to see how Plan Canvas can help you find inspiration.

Our favorite 5 from the article are listed here, along with a brief explanation of how you can actually follow them in Plan Canvas:

  1. Write it down – Plan Canvas encourages you to record everything that is important about your business in the tool.
  2. Evaluate your goals – You then produce a Progress Report to review with others to track how you are doing with all of those critically important items.
  3. Simplify – Plan Canvas is built on this key principle. Planning your business and executing to that plan should be simple, not over-bearing.
  4. Question all assumptions – Within Plan Canvas, you document all major assumptions, the risk associated with the assumption, the impact if the risk occurs, the likelihood it will occur, and, importantly, how you will mitigate against that risk.
  5. Focus on yourself – Plan Canvas includes a Personal Plan for anyone to focus on themselves, regardless of whether they are an entrepreneur, business owner, organizational leader or not.

Everyone is different

Some people find inspiration while in hurry up mode. Others need quiet, uninterrupted time. Whatever the case may be for you, the most important thing is to have an open mind. Inspiration often comes in the most unexpected ways – but we have to be open to being inspired for it to happen.

Quit Calling Objectives “Goals” – Just Quit It

January 22nd, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Business is ART, Goal, Objective 0 thoughts on “Quit Calling Objectives “Goals” – Just Quit It”

This might be a little nit-picky, but, there is a difference between goals and objectives. Goals, by nature, are not particularly SMART…you know:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

These are actually the characteristics of well-defined objectives. You measure your progress toward achievement of goals through objectives. Objectives support goals.

We said that goals are not particularly SMART. That is more than just a cute play on words and acronyms. Goals are more of a destination – more like an “Are we there yet?”

SMART objectives invite you to be realistic and in a hurry. Goals invite you to dream big and be more concerned with the getting there than the speed with which you do.

That’s why we take a little bit of umbrage with this article at Entrepreneur entitled Set Goals for Your Employees. Don’t get us wrong, we completely agree with setting goals for employees.

And at the risk of sounding a little Sheldon Cooper-ish, we actually do agree with the content of the article – as long as you substitute the word “objective” in 95% of the instances the article actually uses the word “goal.”

With that in mind, here are a few comments on the main points/recommendations of the article:

  1. “Set goals with employees” – Yes! We love it. This is part of including your employees in developing the strategy. It adds buy-in and promotes an environment in which employees are engaged.
  2. “Reevaluate goals frequently” – No! Not unless you frequently change your mind about where you want to go (a goal is a destination). But do frequently evaluate objectives.
  3. “Make goals specific and measurable” – No! Goals are decidedly grandiose and not measurable in themselves. Make supporting objectives SMART which includes their being specific and measurable.
  4. “Goals don’t have to be tied to sales” – Correct! Nor profits. We like value-based goals as opposed to profit and sales driven goals. Focus on the types of goals that will really get employees engaged in the business on an emotional level.
  5. “Make sure employees goals are attainable” – No! Goals are big and lofty. Never measure an employee’s performance based on big, lofty goals. Rather, do it on objectives, which, yes, should be attainable.
  6. “Be consistent” – Absolutely. And you can start by consistently not misusing the word “goal” in place of the word “objective.”
  7. “Watch your timing” – Wrong! Not for goals. They are long term. Objectives are time-bound.
  8. “Avoid rivalry” – Ehhhh….this one feels a little like “everyone gets a participation trophy.” A little FRIENDLY rivalry in-house can be healthy. Just don’t allow it to create clicks and jerks.
  9. “Set goals that tie employees into the success of your company” – Correct! Set objectives that tie employees into the success of your company.

This might all sound a little nit-picky, but it is important to remember the distinction between goals and objectives. Know the difference and plan accordingly.


Reach Your Goals with Measurable Objectives

Now that you know the difference between “Goals” and “Objectives”, let’s put that knowledge to use! Plan Canvas helps you identify, communicate and track goals, objectives, initiatives, action items and more in one convenient, easy to access, easy to use tool.

Do Employees Really Need a Sense of Purpose?

January 18th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Goal, Objective, Strategic Planning, Strategy, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Do Employees Really Need a Sense of Purpose?”

“Executing a strategy without engaged people is impossible, and brilliant strategies without execution are meaningless.”

That’s how an article at Inc., entitled Why Strategy Without Execution Will Get You Nowhere begins.

It’s like we wrote that ourselves. In fact, we have written very similar statements on numerous occasions. Want to know why? Because it’s true.

It’s mid-January. By now, a large percentage of New Years resolutions have already been long forgotten. That’s true in business as well as personal life. Businesses often end the year giddy with the excitement about the new plans and strategies they’ve developed for the new year.

“We’re going to do great. We’re going to increase sales and profits. We’re going to hire new, fresh talent. We’re going to…”

Sometimes actual targets or objectives accompany those statements. Sometimes they’re followed by statements that start with “And here’s how we’re going to do it.”

But what’s often missing is, “Here’s why we’re going to do it,” or “Here’s why it’s imperative that we do.”

Let’s use the Plan Canvas purpose statement as an example

Simply put, we want businesses to increase their odds of success and do better. Why?

Because even a modest improvement in business performance will make a tremendously positive impact on the economy, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and take us that much closer to improving lives and eliminating poverty.

Value-based vs. profit-driven goals

Setting value-based goals is one way to improve employee engagement. Watch our 2 brief videos on the topic.

Is it a coincidence that the reported percentage of disengaged employees is almost the same as the failure rate of strategic plans?

The American Management Association (AMA) reports more than 60% of strategies are not successfully executed. A Gallup poll indicated that only 32% of employees in the United States were engaged in their work in 2015, virtually flat over the 31.5% reported in 2014.

Let’s see – there’s a 60% failure rate in strategy execution, while the employee disengagement is rate is 68%.


There has to be SOME kind of purpose

Perhaps the answer to the high failure rate of strategies is to simply give employees a greater sense of purpose.

The purpose for any business doesn’t have to be big and lofty nor world changing. It can be almost anything. But it has to be SOMETHING because that sense of purpose is what you need in order to get your employees excited and engaged.

If the only sense of purpose they feel is “to put money in the pockets of someone other than myself”, they aren’t going to be very engaged. If they aren’t engaged, you are on your own and the strategy will fail.

If You Know Better Do Better

January 10th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Goal, Objective 0 thoughts on “If You Know Better Do Better”

We recently heard the story of a hard-working retail cashier, stressed from the holidays, managing to keep her cool in the face of rude customers.

One particularly disrespectful customer reflected on his actions, returned to the store, and fell just short of an apology by saying, “That wasn’t your fault. I know better.”

A genuine apology for his behavior would have been better, and perhaps would not have resulted in this response from the cashier, “If you know better, do better.”

That’s really some great advice for all of us. If we know better, lets do better.

Not another list!

We don’t need to give you yet another list of the things you can be doing better on, be they professional, personal or societal things. There’s no shortage, so pick a few that are most important to you and run with them.

An article at the New York Times entitled How to Do Things Better in 2018 lists and describes 10 things you can focus on (and why), but then goes on to provide links to unique pieces that actually get in to HOW to do better on that particular item.

The article focuses mostly on personal, but also on a few professional areas, such as “How to Build a Successful team.”

Guess what the first step is?

If you guessed, “Make a Plan,” you guessed correctly.

More to the point, the article says, “You need a clear and measurable goal for what you want to accomplish.”

We agree with the intent of that statement, but we are also a little nerdy when it comes to using terminology. You really need clear and measurable OBJECTIVES that support your loftier GOALS. Goals in and of themselves are more of a destination, otherwise, not really measurable beyond “Are we there yet?’

But all nerdiness aside, make a plan and make things measurable. But to that point, make it actionable.

Keep it Simple…Seriously (we object to calling anyone “stupid” so “seriously” is a good substitute)

Meanwhile, Inc. has posted an article entitled 3 Simple Habits I’m Making in 2018 to Drive Better Results. In it, the author’s 3rd simple habit is “Discipline through simplicity,” and, again, we couldn’t agree more.

Plan Canvas is built on the “KISS” model – Keep it Simple, Seriously. So often we just make things too complicated. Take a look at the things you do and ask yourself how you can simplify. Challenge yourself and your team. Make a game of it. There is always a way.

As the new year gets going….

We all know we CAN do better. And as the cashier said, “If you know better, do better.”

That’s the kind of simplicity we can live with.

How Do I Stick to New Year’s Resolutions – We Object to The Question

January 2nd, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post 0 thoughts on “How Do I Stick to New Year’s Resolutions – We Object to The Question”

How do you stick to New Year’s Resolutions?

If you just heard a collective “Ugh” from the Plan Canvas team, it’s because that is an old, tired question that begins with an assumption that, every year, we have to make new resolutions because we just couldn’t stick to them the year before.

But, hey, all the cool kids are doing it, so let’s jump on the how-to-stick-to-new-years-resolutions bandwagon and offer up a few thoughts.

The feel-good stuff is important, but not everything

To be clear, we believe strongly in the feel-good, softer-side of things, like maintaining a positive attitude, doing for others, and pursuing value-based versus profit-driven goals. We believe in pursuing a purpose that is greater than ourselves.

There is a lot to be said for and a lot that can be accomplished through a focus on these things, but, we have to be a little more pragmatic than just thinking about feel-good, softer-sided stuff.

For example, an article at Inc. entitled Three Tips to Help You Follow Through On Your New Year’s Resolutions recommends the following:

  • Don’t be a harsh critic
  • Be a better motivator
  • Develop self-compassion

These are all excellent character points that make a lot of sense. But in summary, what the article is saying is, “be a better person and you’re more likely to follow through with resolutions.”

There is even some lab work to support this position, but, call us cautiously skeptical. Some of the most hateful people in history were also the most resolved. And how many really nice people do you know that never seem to be able to stick to resolutions?

Which leads us to say…

Check out Plan Canvas

Click here for a list of features, functions and a demo

We are sorry to say, it takes discipline

You can’t just snap your fingers and say, “I am now a better person. I am now more resolved to stick to resolutions than I was prior to the snapping of the fingers!”

Hey, we’d rather have lean muscle mass and a healthy heart without having to worry about nutrition and exercise, but, it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, like anything else worth having, resolve takes discipline.

Are there any magic steps?

Not really. But here are a few steps to follow:

Step One. Define what you want to accomplish. Just say it out loud. Then write it down.

Step Two. Make a proclamation – a mental snapping of the fingers as in to say, “I am going to do this.”

Step Three. This is followed closely by a proclamation that not only are you going to do this, but you’ve GOT this! A positive attitude will dramatically improve the likelihood of a successful outcome, so, you have to genuinely believe you can do it.

Step Four. Track and record your progress. If there is a magic step at all, it’s this one. As you record progress, you begin seeing advances – even if tiny advances. Your mind starts to truly believe, “Hey, I REALLY CAN do this.” You begin to protect that forward progress because you worked hard to achieve it. No one, not even you yourself, is going to steal it away from you.

Step Five. Keep doing Steps 1 thru 4. Make them a habit.

A great place to start

Plan Canvas includes a Personal Plan designed for any individual to use. It focuses on 4 major categories including:

  • Career
  • Current Job
  • Personal/Family
  • Spirituality

It asks you to document what you want to include in each of those categories – over the short term, mid-term, and long term. You can think of these as your resolutions (and you don’t need a new year to make them).

Most importantly, it then asks you to specify the actions you will take to accomplish those resolutions. Feel-good stuff is necessary but feeling good doesn’t get it done. You have to take action.

Get a coach!

Whatever tools you use, even if it’s just writing your resolutions on a napkin, ask someone to be your coach. It’s the best way to help you hold yourself accountable. The coach can help you keep track of progress, remind you that you are making progress, help you maintain a positive attitude, and be a sounding board for your ideas, no matter how “crazy” they are.

Click here to see our consultant/coach services. Whether it’s ours, someone else’s, paid, or unpaid – GET A COACH!

Here is to the year 2018. May it be a good one.

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

© SeaSeven LLC 2017.
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