On the show How I Met Your Mother, there was a running gag about one character, Marshall Eriksen, making “sweeping declarations”. He would do something ill-advised and afterword was adamant he’d never do it again. Of course, he did it again. It wouldn’t be funny if he actually changed his behavior.

In our work with business owners we see sweeping declarations often. The business owner just got through the last year or quarter or month by the skin of their teeth due to cash flow issues or intense growth or employee turnover or just simply being pulled in too many directions at once. They walk into our office and they declare “I WILL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN”….

And then, guess what, they do it again. Sheer will & determination is not enough to create & sustain systemic change. If it was, there wouldn’t be any dysfunctional businesses because entrepreneurs are some of the most determined (and dare I say obstinate?) people on the planet. What business owners are lacking is the INSIGHTS into what is causing the issues and the PLAN to change. Which, let’s be honest, is usually the hardest part.

And it’s not their fault.

There is an age old saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees”. There are a handful of people in this world who can both see the big picture and minute details while in the thick of it. Most business owners are so focused on the day-to-day they can’t get enough space to see the bigger picture. This is why trusted advisors, strategic planners, executive coaches, etc. exist. To help people pause & see the forest.

Getting clear on the realistic big picture is hard but figuring out a path from where you are to where you want to go is tough too. Well, I take that back. The plan might be easy to create but communicating it and holding your team accountable to it is something I have rarely seen done effectively.

So, how do we actually change? Simple,

  1. gain clarity on the drivers of your issues
  2. develop a plan to change
  3. act accordingly

Simple, but not easy. A tool that might be helpful, especially this time of year, is our Cascading Metrics Worksheet. This helps business owners and their teams gain clarity on where they want to go, set incremental goals to get there and push accountability down throughout the entire organization.

I’m curious, what sweeping declarations have you made about your business?

Sarah Grace Mohr