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Your Environment Is Critical To Your Problem Solving Ability

After more than two and a half decades "in the real world" I'm astonished to again be slapped in the face by an idea I profess to already understand.

The environment you're operating in is absolutely critical to your ability to solve problems.

This is one of those things we nod and say we "know." It's easy to bypass in our rush to get results.

It's a lot like the "You Are Not Your Customer" copywriting admonition that sometimes needs to be heard a thousand times before the writer suddenly 'gets it.'

But the fact is we are far more accepting of things as they appear than we could be.

If you get used to someone rolling a hand grenade into your office every day, you'll start accepting that as part of your environment. As a normal event you cannot change. A thing you have to put up with.

You'll start believing things about yourself to be true due to that daily happening.

And since you believe those things to be true ("I must accept this," "It's just something I have suffer through," "Everyone must have something like this going on, and I'm like everyone else") you'll behave in ways consistent with those stories.

In other words, you will either DO or NOT DO certain things because of what you believe about yourself. And those beliefs come in a major part from your environment.

environment is critical lightbulb grow change important

The Environment You Accept Directly Impacts What You Will DO or NOT DO

Your environment is critical to your ability to confront and solve problems.

I recently made a major change to my environment.

Immediately I noticed things shifting. The external appearances were changing because beliefs I had about myself were changing.

I was no longer the person who put up with the "hand grenade being rolled into my office every day."

After a couple of weeks in the new environment, I did a quick study of my effectiveness.

Now I must say I believe most competent executives are effective for perhaps four good hours a day.

The rest of the time they're less effective. They believe they're doing things, but a simple Pareto analysis demonstrates they experience a big fall-off after those four hours.

My check on effectiveness in the previous environment showed me I'd been doing competent work for ONE hour a day.

And I have to share that I was at my desk (and the computer screen) for eight to ten hours every day.

Make The Change: Your Environment Is Critical To Your Effectiveness

One of the huge environmental changes I've made is to move my office away from where I live.

It's now a deliberate choice to go to that office. I now spend far fewer hours...perhaps four to six...at the office and in front of the computer screen.

I'm far more effective. There are no disruptions. I get in, and I get out. I'm not stuck at the screen.

And most of all, I no longer have the belief that I have to be here at the computer to accomplish things.

Ask yourself: "What if I don't really 'know' that my environment is critical to my success?"

Take the time to change your environment. Switch it up for a week and observe what happens: not only in the external world, but in your own head. How you think about yourself.

I'll bet you find you've been weighed down by a bunch of nonsense for a very long time, and you can let all that stuff go.

>> Want to talk to Jason? Book your session by clicking here! <<

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Documentation Is Important: More Valuable Than You Think

Documentation is important, gosh darn it.

I had a conversation with a highly experienced business owner late last week that gave me some feedback I found alarming.

We were talking about process improvement, and he told me what he thought about some of the copy on my website that mentions "documentation."

He didn't think it was important. Nor did the wording tell him enough about what my company does.

And it's my fault.

I haven't explained this well enough.

Documentation is important. Far more important than you think.

When people see that word, "Documentation," I can understand that their eyes glaze over.

It sounds boring.

"Yeah, yeah," they say. "I know about documentation."

After all, all you have to do is write things down...right?

And then you're documented.

No.

documentation camera coffee recording data information doodle process map

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Good Documentation Is The Key To Learning

Unfortunately, that's where the understanding ends for most business people.

And when they see that word, "documentation," their brains shut off. It's already dealt with. No big deal. Not even a problem.

Right there: that's the fail point.

When you think you've already handled something...that's the very item you should be reviewing.

Since my company documents other companies for a living, I can tell you a few things. Let's begin with this: most organizations are pretty darn poor about documentation.

They don't have process maps.

They certainly don't understand their metrics.

They did not choose their measures deliberately, instead abdicating that responsibility to some tech who came in to install their CRM.

Let's Change Your Definition of Documentation

Most organizations are way off when it comes to effective documentation.

Let me state this plainly: data collection is NOT documentation.

Especially data collection by default.

Have you noticed that many companies collect data...and then have no idea what to do with it?

That is a symptom, resulting directly from the problem of not having chosen good, business-specific KPIs.

Let me continue: if you don't document well, you can't learn anything.

The story will change over time, and the lessons you thought you learned will become invalidated.

Let's say you've got a knockout sales team of three people. They land a multi-million dollar contract and come back swaggering.

That's great.

But how do you repeat that experience?

The answer is to get busy documenting exactly what happened.

Documenting with clarity.

If you don't, two years from now Mary and John from the superstar sales team will be gone...and Sam will be telling a hero story that so aggrandizes his own involvement as the fulcrum of the sale you'll never be able to separate him from the results.

And how do you duplicate that?!

The opportunity to grasp exactly what did happen will have long been lost.

And your organization won't learn a thing.

If there's one thing I could persuade you of here, it's this: When you see the word "documentation" from now on, pay attention. Get alert. Look at it and its surroundings carefully.

What measures are being used? Data collected? Will they help you record a solid story, one that stays consistent over time, one that gives you the tools to derive repeatable results?

From my perspective, this is the key: the element that makes your company a learning organization. And you must become a learning organization to adapt and survive and thrive. Stagnant organizations who don't adjust and improve over time simply go extinct.

You say you know that.

But your documentation tells me otherwise.

>> Want to discuss your situation with Jason? Book a paid consultation so we can dig into it and really help you. <<

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Your business can only grow as big as the way you think about it

Your business can only grow as big as the way you think about it.

If what you've been doing until now is thinking of it as a bunch of technical things you have to hook together, that's only going to take you so far.

And the self-honesty required to admit this is where you’re really at...that's unfortunately rare.

“I'm making (some) money!” cries the coach.

Yeah, but…

If you want to level up, doing more of the same is NOT what's going to get you there.

Growth Attempts Ending In The Valley Of Death

The diagram below shows you quantities and revenue sizes of companies in the United States. Perhaps, as I was, you'll be surprised at just how few there are at the higher end.

verne harnish scaling up valley of death sales tactics business growth
(Scaling Up, Verne Harnish)

See the Valley of Death between each plateau?

That’s where you learn, adapt, change your thinking...or die.

This is why so many people try to grow, yet fail, collapse and fall back to the old plateau and say, “That didn't work.”

I've been around a long time. Been running my own business since 2012, after a 15 year corporate executive career. I've seen it all.

In the first several years of my business, until around 2016 when I worked for a full year with my main client being a Change Management consultant who only took care of companies of 1000+ staff, I talked “newbie talk.”

Meaning I shared tactics good for newbies. How to bring in your best prospect. How to qualify them. How to turn them into buyers. What to say. How to set up your sales page. What to write. The thing to say in the video sales letter.

All that stuff is still out there, in forum posts, videos and right here in blog entries. It's free.

No More Newbie Talk

Since then, as I scaled up in business, I moved on from “newbie talk.”

The things newbies struggle with don’t interest me anymore.

Instead, what I've been looking for over the past year or so are new ways of thinking.

People struggling with their business often find the treasures I bring back from this search “boring” and “philosophical.” That’s their mistake. And it’s entirely because of their billiard ball, “Newtonian Universe” point of view...that success is a matter of putting the right pieces together in the right order. That is simply not the case. That’s what newbies believe and what they concentrate on.

So anything else sounds like nonsense.

I admit it’s a bit frustrating. But occasionally someone comes along, someone usually with a lot of experience, who “gets it.”

One of the treasures I brought back--I went and Snagit-recorded about 25 minutes of this lecture--was a talk about how Germany, the Soviets, and the USA produced tanks in World War II.

Now what does that have to do with MY business, you say?

Well, it's an example of different THINKING.

Different Thinking About The Same Problem Leads To Different Results

The Germans built these fantastically-engineered war machines. High specifications. Many options. Very expensive...many times the cost of their enemies'. Long turnaround to complete production in factories with work stations rather than a single production line--much like a Boeing airplane today.

german world war 2 tank production scaling up business growth
(German tank production station, rather than automotive-style assembly line)

The Americans, lead by an amazing architect named Albert Kahn, designed single-line factories that made inexpensive, zero options, long production run vehicles to good tolerances.

The Soviets? Well, first of all they borrowed Albert Kahn. They were US allies at the time, seeing as Hitler was invading the heck out of the USSR. And they did a study. How long did a Soviet tank survive in the field?

They found out it was six months, and in combat 14 hours. So why build things to exacting tolerances?

The Soviets made factories that practically spat out good tanks. Made to acceptable tolerances, because who cares--they were going to be dead in six months or less. They focused on lowering costs, and boy did they lower them.

The end result was the USSR and USA churned out a ton of tanks and overwhelmed Germany’s production. The finely engineered tanks Germany produced ended up filled with unexpected road dust and out of commission half the time in the war in the east.

Can you see the differences in THINKING about their work here?

Can you see the TRAP Germany caught itself in with the desire for high tolerance, beautiful war machines?

Can you see how these modes of thinking might be overlaid on YOUR business...and which approach you might have been unconsciously using until now?

Say you're a coach. Have you been, without really thinking about it, running a:

A) highly customized, long deliverable, exacting program?

B) well designed but affordable, easy to fulfill program?

C) "gets the job done" (barely?), low cost, quick and dirty program?

Is this approach you've unconsciously taken on the right one to get you to the next level?

Are you ready to be self-honest, admit where you're at, see reality as it is...and adapt your way out of the plateau you've been hung up on, so you can move to the higher plateau you’ve been imagining?

>> Jason Kanigan is a business strategist and conversion expert. To book a consultation with Jason, click here. <<