“mapping your business success”
In the mid 90’s I decided to get trained as a river guide so that I could take friends and family whitewater rafting. Our family enjoyed it so much we eventually started an adventure company of our own that we operated and then sold 10 years later. I’d like to share a brief account of part of that training.
“Where are we”? We were two hours into a 3 day trip on the Colorado River and the signs of civilization were disappearing. I respond “Maybe we should pull out the map”, my fellow guide trainee says Naw, we don’t need that, we’re in the wilderness! A few thoughts flashed through my head as I reached into my dry bag to pull out an old weathered map.
“I’m hungry” someone says “When are we going to eat” chimes in another. Our leader was a seasoned outdoors-man but only had one season as a guide and had only been on this section of river 1 time before. “Ok” says the leader “eddy out here for lunch” it was almost 2:00. After finishing lunch we got back on the river and I asked the leader where we were going to camp for the evening and he responded “we’ll see.”
As we floated downstream, I pulled out the map and started following the course we were on and I saw that there were several good camp spots along the way. Unfortunately every time I brought up the idea of looking at the map I got a “F the map” response. No worries, I thought to myself, but this is going to be a really long day.
As dusk approached, the leader decided we needed to set up camp, but we couldn’t find a suitable location. Things began to get tense. I suggested that he look at the map but only received another volley of expletives.
Eventually we rounded a corner and there in front of us was a bridge. The leader said “No way! we’re not supposed to be here until tomorrow afternoon!” So we immediately pulled over and set up camp. After everything was cleaned up from dinner we sat around the fire talking. The conversation turned to life ambitions and I mentioned that it is really helpful to have a life plan like having a map... but that did not have the desired effect as everyone looked at me and said “you and your maps - F the map" in unison.
Here are two observations as I reflect on my river experience.
1. Maps are Essential (if you want to know where you are and where you’re going)
I am amazed at how many businesses do not take the time to map out their objectives. Just like my rafting buddies, they seem to think everything will just work out on it’s own. That rarely occurs. To be successful you need to spend the time and money to develop a clear and accurate strategy map for your business. I like a simple 1 page plan that provides the big picture with a detailed 90 day plan that breaks activities down by week. It’s easy to use and can be updated each quarter.
2. Maps only work when you use them.
It doesn’t help to have a map if you never bother to look at it. It also doesn't help to have one person following the map when everyone else is taking off in their own direction. I have read beautiful strategic plans that reside in large binders that have become shelf ornaments and dust collectors.
The strategy map should be updated at a minimum annually. Each quarterly plan should be executed on a weekly basis with adjustments getting made along the way in order to remain on course.
A Reality Video
Several years ago while on a family vacation in California my son took this short video that demonstrates the need for a coordinated plan. Perhaps you will be able to relate to this situation!
Despite our occasional navigational differences, my wife and I have developed a planning process that puts us on the same page. We have done this for years and it is amazing to see the accomplishments over time.
In fact, I feel so strongly about people having a solid plan that I am hosting a free webinar: “Making 2016 Your Best Year Yet,” on Thursday January 28 from noon to 1:30.
If you would like to register you can do that at this link. Register Now
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Dwight Grant is a seasoned businessman with over 30 years of leadership experience. He lives in CO where he enjoys whitewater rafting, mountain biking and spending time with family.