Tag Archives: navigation

Geographically Embarrassed Businesses

Geographically Embarrassed. Its a euphemism for being lost. Whenever you go wandering about in the bush on an Army exercise, individuals or groups are sure to get lost. In my my experience, the first assumption made when you realise you are lost is that the map was wrong. Unfortunately it almost never is.

The army of course knows people will get lost, so it gives them tools to figure out where they are. And no I’m not talking about GPS. The problem with GPS is that they need batteries, can break and don’t always work properly.

One of the first things young soldiers learn about navigating (apart from reading a map and using a compass) is how to conduct a resection. Effectively what you do is:
1. Look around for 3 major features (eg hills).
2. Find them on your map.
3. Use your compass to get a bearing to each of the features.
4. Draw that bearing on your map, making the line go through the feature.
5. You should have 3 lines on your map that (depending on your accuracy) create a small triangle.
6. Unless you have buggered things up, you are in the centre of the triangle.

“But” I here you say, “So What?”. Well navigating from point A. to Point B. in the bush is not that dissimilar from getting your business from point A. to point B. You start off with a well thought through plan, that normally begins to fall apart as soon as you move. The terrain isn’t how you expected it to be, holes in you plan become gaping chasm’s, people in your team have their own agendas and if you end up running into a little bit of competition, all bets are off.

So one of the things that I regularly see in both businesses that I am an investor in, and my clients –  is a business plan that regularly mutates to suit the current situation . This always seem rational at that moment in time and is described as a benefit “We are dynamic and not a moribund corporate, we are constantly changing to market conditions”. Unfortunately, like the dodgy map, its not just not true .

Its very hard in startups and SOHO firms to have strong management and governance but I suggest that in monthly management meetings, a resection is conducted. Take 3 of your KPI’s for the year, metaphorically draw a line back to where you are and figure out whether you are still on track. Which KPIs should you pick? Material ones of course – large &  drivers of your business,  the ones that matter. This is normally around Customer acquisition, Revenue and Cashflow management.

If your not where you expected to be, don’t change your plan, change your actions to get yourself back on track. Your map is almost never wrong.