As The Crow Flies

Developing a strategy for a company is challenging without clear sight of our target. We don’t know if what we’re aiming for is right or wrong and it’s nearly impossible anticipating all the possible contingencies. Are we focused on the right things? Do we have everything in place? Are we positioned to succeed? What is our backup plan? These are questions we need to be asking ourselves, and many more. If we fail to answer our questions with certainty, we will always be aiming at a moving target.

We need a strategy with a straight line of sight (as the crow flies) to make sure we hit the target. If “fake it ’til you make it” is your motto, then you’ll be sure to have a long winding road ahead.

Developing a strategy is similar to cooking a meal. When we understand what the outcome needs to be, we tend to take a different approach to reach our goal. It works the same way we prepare a meal. We flip the package over or follow a recipe and read the directions. Step 1… Step 2… at 375° for 40 minutes.

We carefully follow directions and gather together the ingredients, how we need to mix them, when to mix them, at what temperature, and for how long. We clearly identify what we need to do. But, sometimes the directions are not always clear. Other times we think they are, but are they? Understanding how to do something is one thing, understanding (why) we do something is entirely different.

Did you know crows are often identified as clever tricksters?

Backward Goals

Let’s explore how things work in a systems environment. Let’s say each puzzle piece illustrated below represents goals and the center is the arbitrary achievement hub of our brain. People conventionally work “toward” reaching a goal, but this is backwards in a systems environment.

Now, let’s view the puzzle pieces as representing each part of our business and the center piece as an arbitrary achievement hub. Again, conventionally working toward the center to reach a goal. This too is backwards.

The “goals” and “parts” of our business should be built into the system (center hub) and worked outwardly. They become the “result” of the central system. They are a side-effect of the system where the system ensures the result and not simply aiming for something.

With goals, we aim for the bullseye, but we don’t always hit it.

Hypothetical example: Let’s say our referral business is virtually nonexistent and we want to turn it around. We would make it a goal to get new referral business. We would work towards achieving something. The idea becomes an area we focus some effort and hope for the best.

When we set up a central system in the beginning, the referral business becomes a side-effect result of the system, not something we work towards as an afterthought or corrective measure in the future. It occurs on its own because the result is built into the system.

Real-life example: How to paint a room in 6 minutes was never a goal. The ability to paint a room in 6 minutes is the result of a system where the system gave birth to the achievement. There is a valuable lesson to understand when Scott Adams said, “Goals are for losers. Systems are for winners” and it’s no different from what I’ve preached for 20 years.

The concept may sound profound, but once we fully grasp how systems work and understand how the pieces fit, things harmoniously fall into place on their own. The system ensures the result.

Arbitrary Goals

“If your metric for the value of success by worldly standards is “buy a house” and “have a nice car” and you spend twenty years working your ass off to achieve it; once it’s achieved, the metric has nothing left to give you.

Its growth that generates happiness, not a long list of arbitrary achievements. In this sense, goals, as they are conventionally defined, “graduate from college,” “buy a lake house,” “lose 15 pounds” are limited in the amount of happiness they can produce in our lives. They may be helpful when pursuing quick short-term benefits, but as guides for the overall trajectory of our life, they suck.”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Mark Manson Chapter 7 – 7:48

Arbitrary – based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

A meaningful goal would be to become smarter in order to identify what is meaningful.

Systems vs. Goals

Why do we fail at reaching our goals? What are we lacking? Systems-driven people hold the key to answering both questions. They create efficient and effective ways of looking at things. They are big picture driven and simplify ideas to the core. They put things in place to make sure things happen.

By definition, a system is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done, a set of rules to achieve a desired result. The things we do every day are systems. The things we plan to do are goals.

Systems-driven people are effective because they focus their energy in the right direction. They have a clear path to their destination. They see the end as clear as the beginning. They accomplish what they set out to do every time they apply their system. They are effective at reaching expected results efficiently.

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.
— Peter Drucker

People generally know what goals they want to achieve, although, they are ineffective in achieving those goals. We can set goals all we want, but if we fail to put things in place to reach our goals, we will fail every time. While this post was in the oven baking, I gave the following example of a system on Facebook.

If every day when you woke up in the morning you tripped a wire as you walk down the hallway that starts the coffee pot as you walk to the bathroom, what just happened? It’s a series of events put in place to make something happen.

Simply going through the motions ensures the result.

Systems are similar to building toy models. We learn how the pieces come together and what we need to make it happen. When we’re finished, we experience the end-result. The highest benchmark for any company to achieve is implementing the right products, the right systems, in the right place, at the right time.