In his seminal book the author Mark Nepo quotes a well-known African saying “If you don’t know where you’re going, turn around and make sure you know where you’re coming from.” So where is your business coming from the last 6 months? Here is a simple “look back” test that I call the “bad news test”. Take some recent bad news at your company and carefully analyze how it was addressed at all levels. From the minute the bad news was learned ask the following questions: How did you get the bad news in the first place [e.g. customer, an employee, a report]? How did your organization handle the bad news initially? After more information was uncovered, what bottom up system was enabled to address it specifically? Was there also a top-down, high-level strategy to address this particular bad news in relation to other bad news throughout the year? Who was invited to those strategy sessions? What was the follow-up to see if the specific fix was accomplished? Finally, what overall new organizational system [“lesson learned”] was instituted to avoid a similar pattern. Bad news is possibly the single most important front-line means to improve your company. Why? You really can’t do quality strategic planning without looking back at your bad news data.
Fourth of July holiday is an important holiday for many reasons. Time to celebrate and recalibrate. As Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky say in their book “Leadership on the Line”, make time to get off the dance floor, and instead get on the balcony. Put another way, having just spent half a year working IN your company, you need to spend some time working ON your company. A serious mid-year review provides the opportunity to look at your operational, organizational, financial, asset protection/estate and strategic/risk management plan. How are doing so far this year?
So celebrate your successes, and search for objectives that have not tracked your mid-year goals. The good news is that there is still half a year left to make the corrections you need to achieve your annual goals. The bad news is that you realistically can’t delay any longer. So really declare your independence by taking stock of where you are – and compare that data to where you want to be by year-end. Ask “What are your mid-year top three  challenges”? Then really make them a top priority by meeting with your team of trusted advisors. Why? Your greatest risk is simply what you don’t know. So start by simply asking strategic questions to your strategic teammates.