How will you get to the other side?

One month down, 11 to go. How’s it going so far? Are you on course to meet your goals or is it too early to say?

If you’re not on course, or worse don’t know, then re-check that you have the right mechanisms in place to give you the information you need, when you need it.

Veering off course can happen quickly and if January hasn’t started as planned and considering how quickly it’s come and gone, where exactly are you and where could you end up in a few short weeks.

Imagine your goals are on the other side of a stream or small river in a specific spot on the bank. Getting to the other side isn’t a problem because the river is full of flat, secure stepping stones which are close together so you can take small, safe steps.

You need to pick your path, as the stones are everywhere, and in a straight line you could get across in about 40 steps. Remember, your goals occupy only one spot on the river bank, so you need to get to the other side at exactly the right spot.

What’s your tactic? Well, you might look up to check after each step you take or you might take a few steps then look up and correct your course if necessary. Either way, you’re unlikely to take many steps without stopping to check.

Now, imagine, you are blindfolded and can lift the blindfold and check your position only after you have stepped over say half-a-dozen stones. It is likely that you will be off course somewhat but at least you can correct that course each time you look.

Now imagine that someone else, who cannot see the other side, is telling you where to step. It is highly likely that this time, when you check, you will be even further off course. So, you inform the person of where you are so that corrections can be made and then take instructions once more.

Eventually you’ll get to the other side but will you be at the right spot and how much longer has it taken when blindfolded or taking instructions from another? If your goals are annual and each stone represents say, a week, you must get to the other side in under 52 steps…would you even have made it?

Clearly the most efficient and effective method is to not be blindfolded and to look up and check your progress every step or two. If each stone represents a week in your business then clearly you need up-to-date progress information, probably in the form of summary reports and short focused team meetings.

To stay on course, you need to check your heading regularly and receive the information you need to be able to correct your course if necessary.

If that decision is based on the information being provided by others in your company then make sure you have a robust system that collects and delivers that information up the chain, to you at the helm.

What mechanisms do you use for staying on course?