The Design Process…

 Anytime I feel like it, I can work through this process and I will gain a powerful design that is easy to follow.  I often do it in the middle of the year because any design over 3 months old needs to be updated and have more life blown into it.

Regardless of how often I have refreshed my plans during the year, the beginning of every year is when I always take stock of the prior year; reflect on what I want to accomplish next; and design a compelling plan of action that will take me there. I began this practice over 15 years ago. As a result, I have seen a major improvement in my ability to accomplish bigger results in shorter periods of time, while staying centered and grounded in the process. In other words, I have learned that by having clearly defined goals and focusing on the steps that will lead me to those goals, I get more done and enjoy having more energy, joy and passion along the way. 

Shortly after I began working with this annual process, I started inviting my clients to join me. Today, those clients insist on getting together at least every 6 months to review their progress to date; reflect upon what they’ve learned; and renew their enthusiasm for, or create new goals and plans. Their accomplishments have been outstanding. 

A few brief caveats before we begin:

  • This guide does not include the specific financial planning documents that you will want to include in your plans for the year.
  • There is much more to the full design process than is represented here.  Because this process has proven to be so valuable to so many, there will be two 2015 Design Workdays which you can attend, in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the beginning of 2015. At the Workday you will receive a Design Work Book where all of your plans can be clearly laid out. Please click 2015 Design Workdays for more details. 

What follows are the highlights of the process. This Annual Business Planning Guide can be used at any point in time and as frequently as you please. So either grab a cup of your favorite tea or coffee, put on some inspiring music, get a pencil, some notepaper and your calendar, and let’s get to work. Or if you'd rather work in a group setting CLICK HERE to get more information and sign up for the 2015 Design Workday. Early Registration Savings Expire on November 30th. 

5 Reasons For Designing...

 What Peter Drucker says

Peter Drucker is one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice. According to Mr. Drucker, in his 1999, Harvard Business Review article, “Managing OneSelf,” great achievers have always managed themselves and that’s what makes them great achievers. 

 He also pointed out that:

  1. We can only perform from our strengths
  2. Most people are usually wrong about knowing their strengths
  3. Performance cannot be built upon weaknesses
  4. The only access to knowing our strengths is from feedback analysis 
  5. Accurate feedback comes from setting a plan and goals and reviewing them later. 

Note:  Mr. Drucker practiced this method for over 20 years and found that his personal results always surprised him.  He found that his strengths were quite different from what he had originally thought. 

Here is his advice for having the best performance possible.

  • Concentrate on your strengths, and put yourself where your strengths can produce results.
  • Work on improving your strengths.  Analysis will show where a skill needs to be improved or when it’s time to acquire new ones.  It will also show the gaps in your knowledge which can usually be filled.  (Mathematicians are born, but anyone can learn trigonometry.)
  • Discover where intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it.  Some people believe that being bright is a substitute for knowledge.   Taking pride in such ignorance is self-defeating.  Go to work on acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to fully realize your strengths. 
  • It is equally essential to remedy bad habits -- those things we do or fail to do that inhibit effectiveness and performance.  Such habits will quickly show up in the feedback. 

Getting the Most Out of Last Year… 

At the end of a year we think it’s over and it is.  However wrapping up a year is not just about focusing on the results achieved. You’ve gained a whole year of business and life experience.  You’ve learned a great deal that could positively impact your future and open up new avenues of work and fun. 

Begin with thinking about what you are working on – what is important today and going forward? The question I ask myself is, "What am I building now and for the next 3 to 6 months?"  Usually, there are areas where I am forging ahead, others where I am poking along and there might be a few things which I’ve not even started. (I often think and feel like those things should have been done long ago.) 

Think about: What were the biggest risks you took and what did you learn from them? What were your major successes and what did you learn? What achievements made you feel proud? Where did you fail and it wasn’t ok with you? What life ambitions or dreams did you abandon? Did you have a major setback and have you recovered from it? 

If you are feeling any kind of disappointment, frustration or irritation at this point, the process is working. We have to forgive ourselves for falling short of our ambitions and expectations. It’s important to do this before you begin any design work. The good news is that’s exactly what we do at the  Design Workday coming up in January.  There is a specific exercise that will all you to move on and discover the next steps to be inspired again. 

If you are doing this on your own, ask yourself: Is there is someone you need to forgive? Do you need to give them a second chance? Is there anything looming over you that still needs to be resolved? 

What Are Your Business and Life Aspirations?

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, is a fascinating story about an Andalusian shepherd boy who sets out on a quest to discover his purpose, the meaning of life and ultimately his destiny.  It has inspired me to think about my own personal destiny and the larger view of my life.  I'm referring to a created personal destiny not what we think of as predetermined.  I invite you to try on this new perspective and ask yourself, “What are my business and life aspirations?

Begin by considering the larger view of your life…. Where are you headed? In five or ten years, what would you like to be doing and with whom? 

This may be the most powerful and essential step of the design process and we spend a great deal of time working on it at the Design Workday. It’s essential to be headed in a direction that inspires you and feels right because when we truly connect with our purpose or destiny in life, we become unstoppable and impassioned. That high-energy connection can compel us boldly forward, empowering us to embark newly on life’s journey. 

Take some time to freely think about: What are my business and personal aspirations? What is my heart telling me?  What big ambitions or dreams do I have yet to explore? 

As you answer the questions above also pay attention to: What would you like to change? What do you want to do more of? Who or what do you want to include that you haven’t previously? Where do you want to take new ground? Where do you want to get stronger? 

What possibilities and opportunities are now available and accessible to you? Let your natural enthusiasm bubble-up and become a beacon of light in your new approach to life.

Determining Your Objectives… 

Objectives or targets are the end point of your hard work. Clearly and specifically defining your key objectives is critical to your success in reaching them. In the 2015 Design Workday, this is an elegant and elaborate piece of work. It becomes the foundation of everything you do over the next period of time. Designing powerful key objectives is a matter of know-how, practice and implementation. The group synergy and enthusiasm at the Workday will give you direction, focus and energy in this process. 

PART A: Identifying Key Areas of Focus 

A key area of focus is an aspect of your business or life where you want to make real progress. Examples could be: ramping-up your marketing; building your data base; launching a new offer; delegating all non-essential tasks to virtual assistants; or getting to the next level of physical fitness.  

Make sure your key areas of focus will unquestionably move you toward your business and life aspirations. 

Identify the three key areas of focus you want to work on during the next six months. 

Part B: Designing Specific Goals for each key area of focus

If you design your goals well they will be the only thing you need to focus on during the year.  Well-designed goals make your plan easier to follow and action plans become very easy to create and and achieve.

Begin by declaring the date in time when the goal will be achieved. State the date in the present tense, “It is now July…  Thereafter state and describe the actual achievement, “I have…” or “I am…” Again, use the present tense – as if you are in the midst of the fulfilled accomplishment. I recommend designing only 3 goals for each key area. 

At the 2015 Design Workday you will receive a workbook with specifically designed forms to keep you on track throughout the year. Defining the goals is only the beginning of the plan. There is a lot more planning to do in terms of resourcing and designing goals and action plans to support your success. By working with a partner in the workday you'll have the benefit of a sounding board as you lay out the details of your plan. 

The final piece of the plan is to scale your goals so they fit into your life. We spend several hours on this make-it-or-break-it part of the plan during the 2015 Design Workday. The very limited resources of your time, energy, budget and manpower are allocated to each goal in this phase. 

From years of experience working with clients this has repeatedly proven to be the most critical and vital piece of the plan. 

You will leave the event with action plans that are achievable without turning your life upside down and you will be confident of a victory in the following six months. 

If you feel comfortable doing this work on your own, you are  a brave and hardy soul. If not, the good news is the Design Workday will provide the tools, feedback and synergy of a group working through each individual's plans.