Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Planning for and building the right business model 101 – 22: goals and benchmarks and effective development and communication of them 2

Posted in startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on July 24, 2016

This is my 22nd posting to a series that addresses the issues of planning for and developing the right business model, and both for initial small business needs and for scalability and capacity to evolve from there (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 499 and loosely following for Parts 1-21.) I also include this series in my Startups and Early Stage Businesses directory and its Page 2 continuation.

I discussed communications, and communications gaps and failures and their consequences in developing and running a new business in Part 20 and Part 21 of this. And I began discussing goals and performance benchmarks in that context in Part 21 too. My goal for this installment is to continue that line of discussion, by at least starting to explore:

• At least some of the questions and challenges that arise when selecting and setting goals,
• And when determining what performance benchmarks are realistically achievable, and in some crucial sense necessary to achieve too.
• I am also going to discuss those issues from the perspective of what is often thought of as a core Personnel evaluation approach; I will discuss them in terms of goals and stretch goals.
• And I will also discuss all of this in terms of fallbacks and plan B alternatives too: more traditionally considered operational and strategic terms.

I have already been at least setting the stage for this discussion, and certainly in the past two installments by citing a very real-world startup that I worked with as a consultant, helping them to launch, where the founding team could and did meet around the dining room table in the home of the initial founder/CEO of this then still nascent enterprise.

1. What do the various members of a startup’s founding team see as their personal goals and priorities in participating in this venture? This has to be an inclusive conversation with everyone free to express and discuss their thoughts, and not just an exercise in which a leading founder gets to speak with everyone else silently keeping their thoughts to themselves, except perhaps to express agreement.
2. What do the various members of this founding team see as the longer-term goals of this new business, and what do they see as its initial goals and priorities that they would work towards in taking the first steps towards realizing their (still largely abstractly stated) long-term goals there?
3. Where and how could these personal and business visions be reconciled and brought together as mutually supportive and even mutually reinforcing and across this group as a whole? And where are they in conflict, requiring compromise or willingness to accept fundamental change from initial conceptions held? Once again, this has to be inclusive, and with any leading founder willing to at least consider divergent views, that might at least in part be better than their own initial conceptions and understandings. A good founding team assembles a wider and deeper pool of skills and experience than any one of its members could bring to the table, their founding CEO included. And if that team has the right people on it, anyone sitting around that table holds potential for bringing essential insight to this complex conversation.

One the key goals in this exercise is to set an overall goal or set of closely connected goals for this new venture, that have been openly and directly agreed to by all founders and that have been formulated in at least first draft operational and strategic terms. And once this has been accomplished, a first draft formulation of initial short-term goals needs to be discussed and arrived at, where both need and capability to achieve them set their timing and their high priority.

• WARNING: If all of the initially identified highest priority short term business development goals that can be agreed to are ones that could not realistically be worked towards and achieved yet, because of resource or other limitations in place, go back to the drawing board and reconsider your operationally and strategically phrased overall goals and the assumptions that you base them on. And do so with a goal of building at least the start to an operational pathway towards reaching them. “Practical” and “efficient” are crucial here and this exercise is intended to help limit the potential for false starts and critical resource allocation problems.
• Start with what is doable, and with only prudent expenditure of fiscal and other available resources. And make sure that everything you do is specifically directed towards achieving that long-term goal, and towards building a foundation for achieving it.

I have been writing about communications challenges as they can and do interfere with or even stymie this process and I cite them here too, at least in passing. But personality differences can and do play a part here too. And this is, among other reasons, why I prominently listed individual goals and individual participant’s understandings of what this new venture is and of what it can become, in my above numbered questions and comments. Strive for mutual open understanding and for openness of communications where there is disagreement, as achieving that early can prevent seemingly endless problems later on.

• Start out with at least fundamental agreement as to what type of business is to be built and with what overall defining features and form.
• And start out with at least fundamental agreement as to the earliest steps that would be taken in working together towards that goal.
• Subsequent steps and their goals and priorities will be easier to arrive at and with agreement to proceed, after the members of this founding team have developed agreement and buy-in as to overall goals and for where to start in building towards them.
• Positive precedent here is vital – and particularly for precedent in being able to express divergent views without censor for doing so, during the discussion and debate stage.

I laid out four to-address bullet points towards the top of this posting and then primarily focused on the first of them here. I will continue this in my next series installment where I will focus on the second of them:

• “And when determining what performance benchmarks are realistically achievable, and in some crucial sense necessary to achieve too.”

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. And you can find this and related material at my Startups and Early Stage Businesses directory too and at its Page 2 continuation.

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