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“To everything there is a season…”

The writer of Ecclesiastes first recorded this timeless truth which was later popularized in music by The Byrds in the Pete Seeger song Turn! Turn! Turn!

The words remind us that the world is in constant change and that seasons come and go only to be repeated again.  Each one of us – and every business – will face changes as we go through life.  Nothing is constant or static, and nothing we can do will change that reality.

That means we and our businesses must adapt.  We must recognize when seasons are changing, when conditions indicate that we need to re-evaluate, adapt, and change.

a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to tear down and a time to build… a time to keep and a time to throw away.

The words tell us there is “a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to tear down and a time to build… a time to keep and a time to throw away.”

What can we do with these words of wisdom?

Individually, we will endure change.  We must embrace it and recognize that it is a simple fact of life.  We have the power to choose how we respond to change and use it to foster our personal growth.

For businesses, it means there is a time to plan and plant seeds for future growth.  This may mean expanding your business with new locations, adding new products or services, or growing your team.  By extension, there will be a season in which you will reap the rewards of these actions and efforts.

Conversely, there will come a time when these things no longer provide the results you want.  A product will eventually be replaced by something newer, better, or cheaper.  Old ways of doing things will give way to newer ones.  The market will change and certain things will no longer be viable or needed.  When these things happen – and they will – a leader must recognize that a new season is approaching and make tough, even painful, decisions.

You may be facing a new season right now.  If so, do you recognize it, and are you willing to make the changes you need?

OPG can help you with the changes your business faces.  CONTACT US  or connect with us at https://linkedin.com/in/cmatt.

2020 didn’t turn out like you planned.  If this year were a road trip, you would have encountered detours, closed roads, and perhaps a few unexpected scenic overlooks along the way.  You may or may not have ended up at your destination.

Does that mean that planning isn’t worthwhile?  Of course not.

A plan does not guarantee you get the result you want.  Planning helps you think through what you want to achieve, what you should do to reach those goals, and what obstacles you may run into as you execute your plan.  Planning helps you prepare.

Dwight Eisenhower said ““In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”  While most of us aren’t planning maneuvers and commanding a military like Eisenhower was, we fight our own battles – new competitors, changes in the economy or technology, and staffing issues just to name a few.  Planning helps us focus our efforts and align our teams so we can be prepared for whatever comes our way.

You have to act on your plan

But you can’t stop there.  Once you determine your plan, you have to act.  It has been said that “you can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.”  You can envision the future, but at some point you have to take action to make your plans come to fruition. You have to plan and then act on it.

Taking action and executing your plan isn’t as easy as it sounds.  It is too tempting to get distracted by what FranklinCovey calls the “whirlwind” – those daily and urgent tasks of running a business.  It can consume your time and your focus leaving no time and energy for growing the business and working toward your goals.  Executing your plan requires a conscious effort and accountability at all levels of the organization.

To make the most out of the coming year, begin planning now.  And once you finalize your plan, act on them.

OPG helps businesses create and execute their plans.  Contact us or connect with us at https://linkedin.com/in/cmatt if you need assistance.

Years ago I was helping someone cut down two trees from a clump of trees in their backyard.  The first one fell exactly where we wanted. As we started on the second one, it started leaning in the wrong direction, pointed right at their house.

We stopped so we could hopefully change the outcome.  We assessed our options.  We put ropes in the tree as high as we could to help control the fall.  We were willing to try anything to prevent damage.

And then a gust of wind came in and pushed the tree down in just the right direction so nothing and nobody was harmed.

What we realized after we started was that the tree had all its branches on one side, making it naturally heavy on one side.  As we began cutting, the tree twisted toward the weight of its branches instead of in the direction of the cuts we made.

We were lucky to have a good outcome.  If we had slowed down, we might have seen the potential problem before it became a threat.  We should have noticed it after the first tree came down and we could see the second tree more clearly.  We were executing the plan we made earlier without including new data.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.  The 16th President of the United States knew accomplishing a task doesn’t just mean hard work – it requires preparation.

Cutting down a tree requires a plan.  Coaches have game plans.  Builders have blueprints. Business is no different.  You need a plan.

Step back and reflect on your business.  Evaluate how the markets and environment have changed.  Modify and adapt your goals, strategies, and tactics to adjust to new business realities.  Capitalize on a new opportunity or minimize a risk that wasn’t even on your radar twelve months ago.

You need to update your plans.  And if you don’t have a plan, you need to create one to help guide you through whatever comes your way in the future.

Opal Partners can help guide you through the process of re-evaluating and updating your strategy and plans.  You can contact us here or at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

These may be the two most important – and least-asked – questions.  “Why?” makes you think about purpose.  “Why not?” opens you up to new possibilities.

Let’s start with why. The answer to this question identifies the reason behind a decision or an action.   It is purpose.  Motivation.

If you are making sound decision, your why for anything you do is based on your values, your passion, and your goals.  A trifecta of motivation.  The reason for doing something is due to your strong belief that it is right and good to do based on what is important to you, and it helps you reach an objective or milestone.

In business, why has huge implications.  Every action your team performs, every product or service you sell, and every decision you make should move you toward your goals and be in line with your values and purpose.  If not, you are wasting both time and resources.  Can you afford to do something simply because you’ve always done it that way without considering a new approach?  Should you even be doing it at all?

Of course, to answer these questions you must know your purpose, values, and goals.  Not in some vague way but with specificity and clarity.  If you can’t do that, this is your starting point.

Let’s move to why not.  Asking this question forces you to consider new ways of doing things.  It gives you freedom to think of alternatives, to try new methods, to reinvigorate your team, to reach your goals faster.  It helps you stay relevant.  It allows you to dream and try new things.

Why not keeps you from becoming stagnant, stuck in the same place.  Markets, customers, technology, and trends are always changing, and your business must adapt.  You must find new ways to be more efficient and effective.  You must reach new customers.  You must stretch yourself and your team.

Author Louise Penny says, “Life is change.  If you aren’t growing and evolving, you’re standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead.”  Asking “why not?” can be scary but it is necessary.

When you do consider new options, your why and your why not must be in alignment and compliment each other.  In other words, your new possibilities should reflect your passion and goals.

I encourage you to take the time to reflect on your why and consider your why not.

There are three essential elements to a good corporate strategy:

1.  Know yourself.  You have to know who you are and why your company exists.  Everyone needs to be part of a bigger purpose and reason to come to work for you.  It’s the DNA of your company.  As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.”  You can always tell when someone – or some company – is trying to be something they are not.

2.  Know your market.  Understand why your customers choose to buy from you and what makes you unique.  In today’s market, they have choices.  What makes them decide to do business with you?

3.  Decide what you have to do to win.  Set the goals and activities that will get you to where you want to go. 

Companies often think that step 3 is their strategy, but by itself it is incomplete.  It takes all three elements to define your strategy and let it drive your operations.