Things I learned from Stephen Lynch

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If getting just one good idea that helps you do things better is the test of a good business book, then Stephen Lynch‘s Business Execution for Results is worth several good business books. I didn’t get just one powerfully helpful insight from the book, I got several.

Full disclosure. I’m obviously biased because I worked with Stephen to help him craft his book. But that doesn’t change the number of good ideas I got or the ways Stephen changed my thinking. Here are some insights that changed the way I think and work.

Start from where you are. Most business authors write as if you’re starting from scratch with no people, no product, no customers, and no history. But most companies have all of those. Most of us need to start from where we are, not from some idealized situation.

Aim high. Start with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). Pick something you are passionate about, something you can be best in the world at, and make money from. Then keep your eye on the BHAG while you work to get there.

SWOT analysis needs a context. In the book, Stephen tells the story of his attempt to be a fighter pilot. His superior reaction times were a strength when he played sports. But they were a weakness that knocked him out of the final selection for pilot training. SWOT analysis can give you insight only if you do it for a specific goal and a specific marketplace. So do it after you’ve done a lot of analysis, not as the first thing.

Reality is a moving target. In the last three months, the marketplace has changed and so has your company. Your competition has done some things to change the environment. How will that affect the quest for your BHAG? You’d better check.

Stephen introduced me to the idea of Rolling Reality Checks. Execute your plan vigorously for three months. Then stop and take a look around. How have you and the market and the competition changed? Adjust your plan for the next quarter and get back to executing vigorously.

Call your cadence with meetings. Meetings get a bad rap because so many meetings waste people’s time and don’t accomplish anything. But you can use weekly team meetings, daily team huddles, and weekly one-on-ones with your direct reports to keep projects and people on track and productive.

There was more, but you get the idea. If you’re searching for a practical business book that will help you develop a strategy and turn it into reality, check out Business Execution for Results.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Creating a strategy that creates a new reality is not easy. As Stephen says, it requires rigorous discipline. But the rewards are worth the effort.

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