In the aftermath of the recent UK election, I was thinking how the political process mirrors that of our life and business in some ways.
As I sat watching the election results it occurred to me,that for every event we go through in this life, be it a General Election, a family holiday, Christmas or simply an away day, we actually only have three stages. We can give them fancy titles, we can divide them into multiple aspects, but the bottom line is this:
For a moment, just imagine you are the political leader of a party. It doesn’t matter at this moment which one it is, but you are standing for something you strongly believe in and you want to make a difference in the world.
You have working at the everyday of normal life, at your normal pace. You have probably become fairly comfortable in that place; you know what you’re doing, how things work and can fairly accurately predict the outcomes.
Then something happens, and an election is called for on a specific date 6 weeks from now. This throws everything up in the air, there are no accurate predictions here and it means normal gets pushed to one side in an onslaught of prep work.
There are millions of people in the UK eligible to vote and you want most of them to vote for you so you can lead them into the future you envisage based on the ideals you’ve communicate to the electorate. Everything will have to be done to make sure your message is known and understood by everyone with a vote. And the outcome? Well, it’s relatively easy to measure your success in an election, isn’t it? The number of votes you earn from people, the number of seats you win.
So how do you begin? This is a campaign, just like any other, whether in war, in media, in politics or business. You start by reaffirming your vision, outlining your values and presenting your intentions, the manifesto that contains those important issues that you believe will make the world a better place. You get clear on what you will focus on and why.
You consult with your team and proceed to set out a consistent message to let the people voting know your plans and proposals and how it impacts and hopefully benefits them.
The flurry of activity takes you door to door to speak with the local people, appearances on TV, in the print media and in your local community. As the deadline approaches, the energy ramps up, more interviews, more appearances, more quotes and manifesto details. You hope that your efforts will result in votes and the number of votes will result in one thing for you, success or failure.
Then the day arrives, your last effort takes you to the your local polling station to see people turn up to make their mark on the ballot, and you wonder if you have done enough to earn their vote as you offer one last smile, one last slogan as they pass you at the door.
The deadline is done, the doors are closed and the counting begins. The tension rises as you stand with your competitors, still wondering if you could have done more. You know you have one of two outcomes. You will win or you will lose. You will celebrate your success with that winning speech you prepared or you will commiserate with that other speech you hope not to have to deliver. You’ll either start down the road of reform and renewal and implementation of promises made or you will be wondering where it went wrong, what you should have done differently and perhaps consider the option of resignation as leader.
Is that scenario any different from our everyday efforts to build our business with additional clients? We consistently run marketing campaigns, consistently look to please the people who buy our services and products, we consistently reflect on how we can improve, do things differently to make it better and easier for our people, both client and staff. We wonder whether to keep going or to give up.
We do all of that campaign work consistently when we want our business to succeed; we don’t have the option of a flurry of activity and then settling into doing the job for 5 years without thinking about what happens next. That way leads to periods of no work, no clients, no business.
How do we keep up the urgency, the focus and the activity that happens in a campaign?
Take a moment, maybe sit with paper and pen and reflect on how your quest for business mirrors that of the UK current political system, think about what each party could have done differently and what insights their successes and failures have for you. From there think about what you can change in your own business process.
And here’s your deadline, 31.01.2020, the end of the first month of the new year, the start of a new decade. What do you need to learn from this last decade? What do you need to clean up and clear out so that you can get going for the next one? What do you need to bring in to give you a running start?
Let me know how you get on!