Friday, May 20, 2011

Set up the pins...

One of the most tedious tasks in business is properly assembling the pins - so that you can knock them all down. What I mean is - there is preparation to be done in order to be successful. That preparation is often skipped - and then success becomes a crapshoot. It's usually not hard to do... it's usually just tedious.

Examples include:

  • Before a customer meeting, ensure you know who will be on the call, their roles, your team, the agenda, any critical hot buttons, your end goal, your resources, etc. Without this, you're walking in partially blind, wondering who has the cheese samples and what demographic information might inform the presentation.
  • Before embarking on a project, understand the goals, the people involved, the accountability and the tactical steps
  • When knocking off a tedious list of to-do items, understand what's on the list, when it's due, and who is likely to scream first if you miss a date
  • When entering a negotiation, walk in with your batna*, the other person's strengths, weaknesses and interests, and a good target outcome

We walk into meetings unprepared all the time. We walk into situations where we cannot evaluate our success or failure because we had no idea what we were hoping to achieve - or mangled the list so massively that it is impossible to evaluate the intermediate steps. We then declare victory or cover our collective asses when we fail because we couldn't possibly have known how to succeed.

If I'm going to fail, I intend to fail with eyes wide open, watching the ball drop and shatter 3 feet away from me. I wont be turning my back to it, whistling dixie.

*BATNA: Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement. Your back up plan, should you not get what you want. Knowing it makes you stronger. Without it, you are always at a disadvantage, even if your BATNA is to go home and cry your way through a pint of Ben and Jerrys.


Anonymous said...

Does bringing cheese improve your BATNA? Would that make it the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Topping?

Of course I agree with everything you wrote. And I think a true BATNA has almost magical properties in ensuring success.

Lilac - Like The Flower said...

Cheese is an awesome BATNA. And that's not just because I am widely purported to be in the cheese business. :-)