The Missing Ingredient to Most Business Growth and Change Efforts

Even though I’m absolutely passionate about creating growth plans, I have to admit that most business plans—regardless of whether we’re talking about strategic plans, growth plans, marketing plans, business plans or any other kind of plan—simply don’t produce the kinds of results promised.

Now, whenever you see a pattern like that, you ought to ask yourself “Why?” And while there are a whole slew of answers to this question, there is one answer that rises above all the rest … lack of accountability.

In general, most business leaders create plans and then rarely look at them again. They may be forced to look at them once a month if they have to report to a board or if they schedule a monthly staff meeting to review progress on their strategic plan, but since most business owners and service professionals don’t have boards they report to … it’s a continual cycle of plans made, plans forgotten.

But let’s not leave this as a generic discussion about business leaders, let’s get personal. How about you? How many plans have you made in the past few months and then not followed through on? Or how many activities or actions did you say you were going to do over the past month that you didn’t actually do?

Now, don’t give yourself too hard of a time, you’re simply human. We all wrestle with this issue of making plans and promises and then not following through on them. It’s how we’re hard-wired. So, how can you and I beat our wiring? Answer, by creating a system that assumes our human nature will trump our promises.

As much as I’d like to believe that I’ll follow through on my best intentions, my experience (and yours :-), says differently. I may want to call ten people to ask for referrals this week. I may even promise myself I’ll do it this week. But based on past history, there’s a high probability that Friday afternoon will roll around and I won’t have asked one person for a referral.

If given the choice, the vast majority of us will do what we WANT to do, not what we NEED to do—and the difference between those two is often Grand Canyon-esque.

So, how do you beat the system? By making yourself accountable to someone or some group of people for your plans and activities. Now I know that this is difficult for most owners, CEOs and service professionals. While we like holding other people accountable, we don’t like being held accountable ourselves. But that is exactly what we need.

We all need someone to whom we’re accountable (especially if you’re a business owner or service professional on your own). Apart from having that person in our lives, we’ll be able to continually “get away” with not doing what we’ve promised ourselves or our businesses. However, if we’re honest with ourselves, we never “get away” with anything. We simply end up having our dreams go unfulfilled for another year.

So, if you want to accomplish more in the coming month, quarter, or year, my encouragement to you would be that you find an accountability partner with whom you can communicate with at least once a week—even better, once a day (once a month is too infrequent).

Furthermore, this communication doesn’t have to be done live—in real time. My accountability partner and I use a protected blog. In the morning I “post” my three to five most important activities for that day (in light of my goals and plans). At the end of the day, I “comment” on my post and say what I did or didn’t get done for that day. Whether my accountability partner comments on my post or not for that day is irrelevant. Simply knowing that someone else knows what I’ve promised to do for that day to grow my business is motivation enough to get done what I promised myself to do for that day.

And all I can tell you is that accountable days get more done than non-accountable days.

So what kind of system can you set up to make sure you follow through on your intentions? And who can help hold you accountable to those commitments?

To your accelerated success,

P.S. I know that having someone hold you accountable is a fearful proposition. But may I encourage you to fear the fear and do it anyways. Just give it a shot. Call it a one or two or three month trial. Yes, there will be days where you have to eat humble pie and say, “I didn’t get that item done.” But you’ll be more than compensated by how many more items are getting done because of your accountability partner (and by extrapolation, how much faster your business is growing because of it).

P.P.S. If you have an executive team, you’ll want to read my post on daily meetings!

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