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The Progress Cycle

This model attracted a fair amount of comments and direct messages when I put something out on Linekdin. I thought I should elaborate on it slightly.

In my opinion these models, tools etc are a waste of space if they are not coached and applied in context, as such I am happy to elaborate on this model I developed because without correct application it has no value.

The purpose of the Progress Cycle is to unlock business owners; those of us who can’t sleep at night and lie awake worrying about a seemingly impossible challenge we can’t solve.

“there is no such thing as a problem just challenges”

When I was first told this it annoyed the hell out of me as such a grim cliché, unfortunately I had to accept it is kind of true.

The first step in coaching has nothing to do with me it is all down to you, the client. Unless you are willing to accept that there is a challenge you cannot solve on your own we are going nowhere. The reason most of my work comes from referrals is that people open up to their mates and those they trust. This first hurdle is overcome, the acceptance of a problem.

“you don’t trust me having never met me.”

Once we know something is not right the work can begin.

Identify

What is the big issue causing you stress and frustration? I could grill you with questions and force you to unload everything about your business.

But that won’t work, instead I’ll simply say:

“tell me about your business”

Then I’ll sit back and listen empathetically to you for as long as you need.

Context

We all work for different reasons; most of us have to whilst some of us want to. Running a business is the same; some of us chose to and others found ourselves here after a catalogue of events led us this way.

Only through understanding what makes you tick as a person can we begin to unlock the challenges in your business.

For example, are you someone who is always punctual and can’t pack for holiday without writing a check list? What happens to your heart rate if your sales director is someone who performs best off the cuff and doesn’t plan those big pitches?

Heart Rate

So how do we begin to understand what relationship between you and your business, again it is simple:

“how did you come to start your business?”

To be honest in this instance there is slightly more to the process as we go through deeper levels of exploration to discover what really makes you tick.

Source

We now have a feel for the business issue and your personal relationship with your business.

Lets explore what is causing that issue; 9 times out of 10 it is not what we first think (or assume) it to be. What do I mean by this?

There’s an overused analogy (overused for good reason) about why someone goes out to buy a drill. They are not out to by a drill they are out to buy a whole, but why do they need a hole? The further you dig the deeper into the story you go; I did a session once and we ended up needing to put curtains up to keep the baby asleep to ensure a promotion at work.

Rabbit holes aside my point is never take anything on face value; question and dig. What is the chain of events that is leading to this perceived issue?

When we understand that we can begin to do something about it.

Simplify

As humans we are conditioned to dislike change (I’m not sure that is true but it certainly feels like it). Therefore, if I tell you to go and make a big change you won’t be able to, for example:

Tell your whole sales team they now work 6am-8pm 7 days a week and they are not allowed to follow a script. On face value that would be madness.

However, if we put it into the context of a business and break things down it makes sense:

6am-8pm 7 days a week – in our market we can choose to engage with customers at all times. You are not expected to work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week; instead you have the flexibility to pick your own hours.

No more scripts – it has been feedback from customers and staff that scripts are awkward and sound unnatural, therefore, we will provide training that will enable you to manage sales calls in a natural manner that leads to a higher conversion rate.

Strategy

What will work for you and your business, during PE at school (physical education not financial services jargon) we were also told fitness goals should be SMART:

Specific

Achievable

Measurable

Realistic

Time-based

The same principles apply to business strategies, if we discover that you are losing sleep because you crave financial independence but your sales have slumped what do we do?

We don’t fire the sales team because on face value they are underperforming. We establish what is really going on and figure out a solution that will work for you and your business.

Strategy is just a posh word for plan and yet a strategy needs to be SMART for you to engage with it. If I tell you the strategy is to re-engineer the entire business and sell 100k units this month having never previously sold more than 25k, chances are you won’t be able to achieve it. In this example the business is trying increase capacity, boosts sales etc in one hit.

 

Progress Cycle Wrong

Instead, if we build up realistic targets with corresponding actions then this goal become an attainable vision. We gradually ramp up capacity as we develop systems to generate and support sales growth that we can deliver.

Progress Cycle Correct

Why a Progress Cycle?

I like cycles because it suggests there are always things we can improve, refine, evolve or invent. There are hundreds of case studies where successful businesses stand still, lose the market and get taken over by the competition.

A business that continually strives to improve (the Kaizen principle if you want to term it), will not just stay ahead of the competition it will set the market.

Imagine running a business where there is no daily firefighting; instead, everything you do is about enjoying the journey to achieving your personal and business visions – which are obviously connected now.

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