I recently reflected on a time when I had just completed a major milestone in my life: earning an MBA at Harvard. I had worked so hard, first to get admitted, and then to earn the degree. While I had the satisfaction of having achieved something very significant, there was also a sense of anxiety. Having crossed a finish line, I now pondered the next race.
Fortunately, I had a few weeks between graduation and starting my new job to ponder what I had learned over the two-year MBA experience. While my head had been filled with endless business concepts, I recognized something far more profound than new knowledge had occurred for me. My whole way of thinking had been transformed; I had gained a new way of viewing life.
Most fundamentally, I had learned that knowledge is not enough; we must use that knowledge to create value—we must execute!
Knowledge without execution is akin to having a beautiful, sea-worthy vessel that never leaves port. So, my fellow leaders, as we enter a new year, let us vow to leave port, to set sail!
In that regard, I firmly believe that to successfully navigate the waters ahead we must employ a process whereby execution will have a high probability of success. It was that process that I developed in those reflective days following my MBA experience—and have used successfully ever since. Perhaps my PACER model will enhance your ability to chart a successful course this coming year:
The foundation of virtually all success is a solid Plan. Two critical elements of developing a plan are motivation and ability.
Motivation typically is a function of an objective assessment of the current state of things compared to the desired state in the future. Even if 2015 was wildly successful, there is almost always a gap between where we are and where we want to be. The question then is how badly do we want bridge that gap? The answer to that question inevitably defines our motivation.
The second critical element is our ability to bridge the gap. No matter how motivated we are, if we lack the capability to make the journey, our plans will be futile.
One of my clients approached me a couple of years ago. He recognized that although he was running a successful language-translation business, he wanted it to be much more. In other words, there was a gap.
While he was motivated to bridge that gap, he realized that his abilities to do so were limited by a lack of technological skill. This recognition led him to pursue more education in the deficient area. Recently, Cody Broderick, founder and CEO of inWhatLanguage, has graduated with a Master of Science in Information Systems degree, thus adding important new skills for bridging the execution gap he faced not long ago. Capability has been added to motivation!
With both motivation and capability, specific goals should be developed for your plan. It is important that desired outcomes—and the essential actions to achieve those outcomes—are defined and understood in objective, measureable terms. For instance, an outcome might be a 20 percent increase in sales based on specific measurable actions you will take with your customers. Clear assignments for those actions must be made, including who will be responsible for tracking both actions and the outcomes.
Be sure to collaborate with your key stakeholders in developing the plan. Then, Act with energy, optimism and enthusiasm! Make sure that essential actions are fulfilled, that leadership recognizes its critical role in sustaining those actions, and that scorekeeping is consistent and meaningful.
That is where Control in the PACER Model comes into play. Actions must be controlled by being measured against the plan with a critical eye to variances.
Evaluate those variances, good or bad. Periodic evaluations lead to consideration of mid-course corrections.
Revise the plan and/or actions. As the model facilitates execution leading to achievement of goals, don’t forget that the R in the PACER model also rewards success.
I will address more on each element of the PACER Model in future blogs. In the meantime, may each of you launch into a new year of execution and success!
Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses.