Sunday, January 3, 2010


Sometimes when talking with business owners I ask them where they see their business operation in 3-5 years. The most often response has to do with a financial position. When talking with my younger daughter about her life goals (she is 16 now) the most often response after “I’m not sure” is “Doing something that makes me happy”.

I see both of these initial responses as a sort of “leapfrog” answer. Though not wrong in any sense, the business owner and my daughter have leapfrogged over the details (cause) directly to an outcome (effect). I believe that we live in a cause and effect world, a sort of “reap what you sow” environment.

Most of my involvement with my clients revolves around “causes”. Once we have worked through defining a desired outcome or effect, we begin to explore together what may “cause” that outcome to become a reality. From there, implementing systems and processes to put the client in the place of most potential to achieve the outcome is our single minded focus. It is surprising that most business owners know exactly the outcome they want but have put in little time or effort in effecting processes that deliver what they desire.

As for my daughter, she must first discover what it is that makes her happy before she can leapfrog directly to happiness. My wife and I see our parenting “job” with her as one not unlike what I do with my business clients. I must help her discover the “causes” of her happiness. This can lead to some very interesting (and fun) conversations!

In the business world, owners tend to want to beat themselves up a bit about what they have not done in the past. This exercise is totally irrelevant to our task at hand of brainstorming causes. Sometimes we have a 10 minute “purge session” just to let them get it out of their system. We talk about all the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s…but only for a specified time. We then throw that list away. Irrelevant!

Where do you spend your time and effort? Are you thinking about the outcome (effect) or thinking about detailed strategies (causes)?

Leapfrog is a great game…but sometime it prolongs the ultimate “win”.

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