Constraints are important to marketing, but also to all executions. We need boundaries. We need a sense of what goes in the box. Understanding what you can and cannot do is one set of rules, but putting together a system of what you intend to do, your goals, requires a strong understanding of the boxes you are going to configure.
Too esoteric? How about this: you don’t want to buy cars from Coke. You don’t want your airline pilot cooking your supper. You, yourself, shouldn’t try to be a combination web designer / CPA. It’s not that you can’t do this, but rather that the results are less than stellar. This is some of the mindset behind the way the folks at 37 Signals create software, by the way.
In planning my goals for 2009 (and yes, I’m thinking about that right now), I’m thinking about which small boxes to use, what goes in them, and how I will address the challenges faced by choosing not to do everything. I’ve got some plans for what I’m doing with CrossTech (both Media and Partners), as well as how I’ll work with other social media types across the globe.
Want a peek inside my head?
As with all things I do, the goal is to give you something to help you figure out YOUR 2009.
Planning and Constraints: a Framework
Let’s start with plans/goals. If I don’t, I’ll just put stuff in place for no reason .
My big plans for 2009
- Publish Trust Agents and help others develop.
- Educate through speaking / advising / articles or interviews.
- Equip businesses through a social media practice.
- Improve blogging to educate more. Deliver smaller chunk projects.
- Improve my physical health to improve my capacity.
(Note that my plans are all phrased around my biggest core belief: be helpful.)
Now, here are some things that are important to me, and important to my sanity, and important to my business needs.
- Writing practice even more disciplined. (I write TONS, but need to focus on what goes into blogging versus what goes into work.)
- No more than 3 trips a month.
- Small (2-3 day vacations) every 3 months tops.
- Walk daily, especially if I can walk my daughter to school in the AM instead of my commute.
- ALL conferences reviewed on: opportunities / reach / committed time.
- Check ALL requests versus the five above-mentioned goals. Fit in? If not, pass through to others.
- EVERYTHING goes out of my inbox and into review. Approved projects are commitments.
- All commitments have time allocated to them, and all time is budgeted.
- All commitments are checked against revenue needs and time budget.
- Commitments are spreadsheeted: who, what, due, hrs, $, notes, status.
- Twice weekly commitment reviews, and success reviews. (Am I doing what I said? Are my projects succeeding? If no to #1, fix it. If no to #2, can I fix it or do I kill it? No screwing around, because of the economy.)
- Accountable to Operations head.
If I hope to succeed, I do also have to keep track of what I’ll need to deliver on my five big goals.
Some Things I’ll Need
- An assistant and/or an intern. – I can’t manage my inflow by myself any more. I need a parser.
- Build and enhance my network of support. – CrossTech and I have a framework started for this. I’ll enhance it even more.
- More business acumen. This past month, I crippled myself by putting out too much travel budget in one big pop. It left me broke for several weeks. Small businesses need to manage their cash flow, and I’m now much more aware of how this works.
- An Operations head, mentioned above (have someone in place for this).
Boiling This Down
If you want to do something like the exercise I did above, here’s what I did:
- Decide what matters most. Articulate it in the largest possible way. It’s easier to drill down when you have the larger goals in mind.
- Put constraints around HOW you’ll accomplish the goals you’ve set out to accomplish. Include accountability in the constraints.
- Figure out what you need to help you achieve those goals. In my case, I need two other people and some more education. You’ll need something else.
- Make your goals public in some form or another. (This helps with accountability).
If you can put your giant plans into small boxes, it will help you move towards your goals. It’s part of what Julien and I think about when we talk about “Make Your Own Game” in our book. (That’s the chapter we’re writing so it’s heavy on my mind.)
What do you think? Does it make sense? How does it match your own needs? What would you change?
Photo credit, Alana Elliott