Have you ever boiled an ocean in a rabbit hole? Either you have no idea of what I am talking about or perhaps your brain is flicking to memories of management jargon used to challenge the direction of a discussion, but so often causing eyes to roll. As I referenced last week, most jargon starts out with great intent and significance and is diluted with overuse and misuse. This week I would like to highlight two phrases which are very powerful as long as you remember the intent with which they were constructed.
Don’t boil the ocean
Whether constructing a long term strategic plan or tackling a short term operational matter, it is vital that the goal is achievable. Setting out to eradicate world poverty by growing more vegetables in the garden would be a mismatch of huge proportions and so it can be, on occasions, when putting plans together. The overall mission intent is of course admirable, but it might be that starting with poverty in the local neighbourhood is a little more manageable. Having achieved the first step, it might then become possible to move to the next stage.
What will make the biggest impact on your business for the next three years? Are you clear on the steps you are taking to make it happen? Are they achievable, so you are not trying to boil up the ocean with a Bunsen burner?
Beware of rabbit holes
Unfortunately, this is often quoted when people don’t want to have a particular discussion (if a request to take off line has not worked!). Citing something as a rabbit hole seems to save them and keeps them on their chosen topic. When used correctly though, it is a very pertinent warning. Having put your (non-ocean boiling) plan together, it is very easy to become distracted by stuff that pops up from everywhere. Of course, there will be unexpected things that need dealing with, but we should not end up running around underground with the rabbits when we should be reviewing our main goals and of course concentrating on first class execution.
Do you have someone in your team who is responsible for keeping you on track, both in planning and implementation? Do you have a process in place for yourself, to keep you on track? If you or your business are going off down a rabbit hole, how will you change course?
Next week, I will complete the series with a challenge to your customer journey, or in some cases, the road to nowhere.