This is a timely idea to start your New Year with.
Happy New Year!
I have disappointed myself for years by setting goals.
The bigger the better we are told - BHAGs Big Hairy Ass Goals ('A' is supposedly for 'Audacious', but we know better.)
Dilbert helped me see the light.
Well, not exactly Dilbert. Dilbert's creator, Scott Adams.
His book, which is entertaining and an easy read, is really about how systems are better than goals. I am oversimplifying. But that is a big part of it. Click the image below to check it out.
What I realized for the first time while reading the book is that Systems and Goals are two different ways to make progress. They are not the same. Goals have the better reputation because they are easy and apply to everything. But if you are like me, goals lead to a lot of disappointment and feelings of failure. Goals are black and white. You made it, or you did not make it.
Unless you set 'baby' goals, really easy to achieve goals, you fail 80% of the time.
Systems are not black and white. And while you are failing a lot, you are supposed to fail - so that you learn something that makes your next attempt better. Let me give a marketing example.
Marketing Plan/Goals v Marketing System
The problem with the marketing goal is that you don't know how to get there. When you pick a methodology that doesn't get you to your goal, all you have left is frustration and failure.
The problem with a marketing system is that you don't know where it will take you or how long until you get there. But if you keep tinkering with your system, making changes based on what you are learning, eventually you will see improvements and you can keep building on that. Nowhere along the way, although you are mostly failing, do you feel like a failure.
I prefer the system approach.
Another benefit of the system approach is that you will 'naturally' find ways to add new capabilities that make your system better. These new capabilities will be obvious to you. You know what they are and what they will do to improve your system.
In the goal-focused arena, the idea of pursuing a new capability isn't obvious and often feels like you are abandoning your goal to chase butterflies.
Would you say you develop your projects and designs in an effective manner?
I think I did. I knew how much time I had to complete the project. I budgeted time for phases. I had lots of goals to help me stay on track. However my success rate was no better than 50%. Why was that?
It was always something. I had goals. I even had a plan. I didn't have a system.
I didn't even know what a system would look like until I tried something new.
For five years in the early 2000s, I attended The Strategic Coach workshops that Dan Sullivan developed. The prototypical attendee is a financial planner. I struggled to implement The Strategic Coach strategies because an architectural project has 100 times as many steps as a financial planning project. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it is not. My fellow attendees were dealing with seven step processes - each step described in ten words. The architectural project management system that I developed since I retired, Trello-PM, has 700 Tasks.
In The Strategic Coach I hit upon the idea of using just the Pre-Design phase as my 'business'. Pre-Design is similar in size and complexity to financial planning. So I finally learned what a system looks like. It looks like an elaborate checklist of tasks.
Goals are best for short term challenges - a week to a month.
For the long haul, forget about goals. Develop a system. The system's purpose is to constantly improve the results that you are getting. Develop a system for each thing you do.
Systems allow you to stop struggling with goals and failing at achieving goals. And if you want to grow, systems help that happen. Systems become the training manual for your 1,000 or so tasks that architects manage.
Getting back on topic . . . What would a Marketing System look like?
My idea is to create a system for CLONING your best client.
First you need to do a little homework. Draw up a profile of your best client (or your ideal client). This doesn’t need to be elaborate. Spend just one hour. You can always polish it up later.
Who else is like that?
Spend an hour a week searching for them and adding them to your business development mailing list.
Once a week, pick a couple of leads and send an introductory email, introducing yourself, explaining your interest in their industry, and asking them for a favor - for instance, completing a survey about development issues that are critical to them.
Once or twice a month send them stuff that they will find helpful or interesting based on what you have been learning about them.
On a monthly basis you are slowly building a group of prospects and at the same time getting them familiar with you.
With time you will get better and better at finding and helping these ideal clients.
With time you will get to know and to work with some of these clients.
Since the typical project has a five year life cycle, this approach should work lots better than a one year marketing plan that you have no guarantee will work at all.