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BoldTrek » Blog Archive » Higher Bars

Higher Bars


‘Tis the season: strategic planning, goal setting, business planning season.  The time when we stare in the rear view mirror and review the road already traveled this year.  We examine the wake, scan the data, assess our “success”.   What was accomplished?  How well did we execute?  What did we learn?

It has been a challenging business year to say the least.  Some industries like the building materials industry suffered double digit percentage loss in sales and profits this year.   Across the country, formerly large profitable builders are holding mass auctions of inventory at significant discounts.  On the other hand, industries focused on sustainability and high tech products and services have broken sales and profit records.  Regardless of where your business falls on the continuum, now is the time to look through the front windshield and determine the path ahead.  Consider the simple way Susan Scott frames the view:  Where are we going? Why are we going there? Who is going with us? How are we going to get there?

2008.  What is it going to be?

Sun Tzu reminds us in his book, The Art of War, to build our unique strength and “seize favorable positions beforehand.”    After review of 2007, what is your unique strength?  How can you lead with that unique strength to fortify a favorable position for growth in 2008?  You know that without a unique strength you are at risk to be in a vulnerable position.  So what is it?  How can you say it through your actions?

Risk.  How much risk will you include in your plans for the future?  How bold will you be?  How much “business as usual” can you tolerate?  In his thought-provoking book, The Strategy Paradox, Michael E. Raynor says: “Extreme positions in strategic space create the highest levels of profitability but also create the highest levels of strategic risk and hence failure.  That is the strategy paradox.  The trade-off between risk and return appears inescapable, and most firms deal with that trade-off by accepting lower returns for a better chance of survival.”  Survive or thrive.  Survive or thrive.  Such is the torture of our daily lives as business leaders…as human beings. 

2008.  What is it going to be?

How are you uniquely prepared for the year ahead?  How high will you set the bar for yourself?  Your team?  Your business?  Consider this from Roger Von Oech: “…what we think about ourselves has a way of becoming true.  If you think you are creative, you’ll put yourself in situations where you can use your creativity, try new approaches, take risks, and come up with new ideas.  If you don’t think of yourself as creative, you’ll be too afraid of your own ideas to give them a chance to work.  Remember: as you think, so you are.”

2008.  What is it going to be?  Be bold.  Share what you are thinking.

2 Responses to “Higher Bars”

  1. raymond Says:

    Good thoughts! December promises to be a HUGE planning (and implementation) month for me — I usually do this in January but I am too jazzed to wait… besides, what good is procrastination… I have big plans for 2008 and will be implementing major changes in how we do business to meet those goals… I’m definitely conscientious of the strategy paradox!

    Thanks and wishing you the best for 2008!


  2. Sandra Koelle-Stewart Says:

    What a difference a year makes! I was unemployed at this time last year, wondering just what new doors would open for 2007. For a year now i’ve been doing project work, much planning and implementation and evaluation. And I know that great things are on the horizon. My work shines because I love what I do. I’ve begun to reach my full stride. When one is feeling a little ‘on top’ of her game, it’s important to stay grounded, focused on the right things, and being fully present in the task at hand–all the while open to possibilities and with the bigger picture in mind.

    My goal for 2008 is to go forward with integrity and daily commitment to being the best in the world (to quote Godin) at developing a growing organization to support an important mission.

    I’m glad we’re not calling this discussion “new year’s resolutions’. However, my goal (resolution) is to ween myself off my lunch time soda. Wish me luck!

    Best to all the readers and writers here — and especially to Sue, our fearless leader!

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