We’re here to discuss forming an impactful strategy plan with traction. Web Warriors, Site Owners and Operators Unite!
Will you let a slowdown permeate to your application of website strategy? Here are some suggestions for quickly moving into coming up with an impactful strategy plan and rapidly moving forward with implementation.
Having done this type of work now for 18 years, every holiday season, there’s always a slowdown. I’ve even noticed some eCommerce providers, they just get tired from the long year and lose ambition pre-Christmas, which of course is the Black Friday high traffic time. Maybe you’ve just put off doing some website repair or improvement.
We’re mostly relating to Website, Content and Services Development here, but you can really relate this to anything you are working on that might be fairly complex.
While we can’t do much about recapturing Black Friday, we can look at the upcoming month January in more detail. We’ll be exploring some strategies for managing multistage projects and putting your organized thoughts into production.
Here are Suggested Steps from Someone with Experience in Post Holiday Blahs
INDEX: STRATEGY PLANNING
- Make a Staged Implementation Plan Draft
- Connect with People Who are Key to Your Success
- Set Deadlines for Your Stages
- Finalize Your Draft Plan
- The First Attack
- Don’t Get Caught Up in Stage 1
- Rework the Plan
- Implement Some More
- Constantly be Reworking the Plan
- Always be Looking at Alternatives to Stay on Course
- Don’t Forget the People and be Open to New Ideas
- Stay on Course Through Completion
- No Plan? Do Something, Not Nothing
- Have a Plan to Deal with the Stressors
- Out of Ideas? “Just Write”
Ready to Kill it in January?
So what January is, from my experience for most people with a vibrant web presence, is a time when they have a swirl of ideas and ambition. Is it go time? Are they ready? Well, not exactly always.
Most clients that I encounter, they plan for January to be their big effort run and I’m the same way, I get charged up about moving forward with passion during January.
I always do this, but the rush of customers doesn’t tend to come to my business until February or even March. It seems people don’t get highly motivated until they feel like they are missing out or behind. (at least after many years, that’s the explanation I’ve been coming up with)
It’s easy to understand, I get it. We get caught up with family, having had a rest period, looking back and being thankful about our blessings and feeling good about our accomplishments.
My word of caution is to not use January as a “planning month,” but rather a time where the wheels hit the road with implementation.
Being we’re in January, that doesn’t leave much time, does it?
I’ll leave this with a phrase my Dad (and probably many of our Dads used to use): “Less Talk, More Action…”
(slightly abrasive, but hey, it is what it is)
So What Can You Do Right Now to Flip this Equation?
Quite a few things actually.
Let’s get into it…
Make a Staged Implementation Plan Draft for Forming an Impactful Strategy Plan
So the focus of this post is not to spend too much time on non-action planning. That being said, planning is important. Creating a plan that has multiple stages that lead to an end goal can guide you through to success and accomplishment of that goal. It’s a must. Start this stage as a “draft.” Do as much research as possible to try and come up with reasonable date guides. If your take is that some of these things are easy, but involve other people to accomplish your objectives, plan for that. Let’s get to forming that impactful strategy plan.
Connect with People Who are Key to Your Success and Include Them
So you have your plan or an idea of how you want to put your plan together. We often leave out an important part, connecting with people who can lay credence to supporting the accomplishment of it. Maybe that’s a person that is relative to Stage 3 of your plan and not Stage 1. There’s much more benefit to going on a fact finding mission ahead of time rather than leaving your first contact to when you begin your Stage 3. You’ll also very likely gather valuable feedback by people who have advanced knowledge of some hurdles you’ll have to jump through or some things you may not have thought of. There really is no substitute for information that comes from people with experience. You’ll likely find your plan changes slightly (or perhaps majorly) after doing this.
Set Deadline Goals for Your Stages in Your Strategy Plan
Deadline is a staunch word. It’s black or white, do or die. Let’s refer to deadlines here more as “deadline goals.” I say that as in my opinion, every plan requires revisiting and revising at multiple stages. Things in life rarely work out exactly the way we envision in our minds they are going to…and that’s ok.
So you’ve come up with a draft of how you envision your application to be. Put some deadline goals on it. Don’t worry, these can be changed, but you need some initial driver
I spend a lot of time both in my personal and professional life working with people on how to effectively plan. It’s not easy and although I help others with this, it’s also a challenge for me. We can’t really predict all of the outside variables that are going to happen in life and these are the things that have the greatest impact to the overall success of planning. All we have to do is have the understanding that these things are going to occur and have a way to deal with them relative to our plan.
Finalize Your Draft Plan
After following the previous steps, this step becomes more simple. The Draft plan is still just a Draft and should remain that way through completion. We often see plans as black and white and those that do rarely accomplish their objectives. We’ll get more into revisiting the goals and plan in the following steps. But now you have a guide that is the first concrete step in forming an impactful strategy plan!
The First Attack After Forming an Impactful Strategy Plan
So this is where “rubber meets the road.” It’s an existing time full of emotion and passion when it’s go time! It’s also the first stage where you commonly realize that what you’ve planned actually is going to take more time than you envisioned once you begin application. Our human minds want to believe that things often should be more simple than they end up being in application…and that’s ok.
This is the first of many “revisiting” stages. You’ve heard the phrase “always be closing.” In my mind, that’s a very narrow approach that centers on black and white when things aren’t black and white in reality. In my opinion, that phrase should be: “Always be revisiting.” Constantly. Revisit, rework the plan, rework the time goals, everything, but use the plan as your guide to stay on course, on course being the ultimate completion of your goals.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE:
Pre-holiday, I came up with a plan. In my situation, I had always used my site WPCommunity.com as the place where I would generate new clients for my business. A lot of people gravitate towards community based content, and rightly so. Being that I own what might be the best domain in WordPress, it’s been good to me.
After a few redesigns and wanting to turn this into an ad free news experience, I decided to take this website domain you are on now and really work on making it great providing valuable content and making it more the base of my reach out to potential clients. I had ended up getting more clients from my last redesign on it, so I figured the time was right to really enhance the site.
So there I am with my plan. Ready to go, well thought out strategies and application (which of course involved some fairly technical pieces in the scheme of what is me).
The intial stages of preparing technology for me turned into an 100 hour endeavor. I was thinking more like 50 to 60. My content application requirements as I re-assessed ended up being more like 400 – 600 hours to accomplish what I wanted once I had the real world experience getting into the application stage.
Did I quit? No. Did I re-assess and re-align the way and volume of things I would be doing on different time intervals? Yes. ALWAYS BE REVISITING. I’ll continue doing this revisiting through to completion of my plan the entire way.
Content production in my mind was very simple. Write and share your ideas. In actuality, the time requirement vs. the volume of things I wanted to write about ended up being much different (much more) than what I would have thought.
It’s fine and I re-aligned with the other things I need to balance it with such as client work and my personal life.
Don’t Get Caught Up in Stage 1
This point is directly relative to the previous. MANY PEOPLE NEVER GET PAST STAGE 1. They get to Stage 1 and it ends up not being what they thought it would be and see it as a failure or an endeavor that doesn’t have merit. It doesn’t have to be. Revisit, re-align and move forward with your rebalance and keep on course doing this constantly. (if you haven’t guessed it yet, this is the overall theme of this post)
This is actually the greatest of many discovery opportunities to come, where you come up with a realization of what the actuality of your idea or plan is in terms of implementation.
Rework the Plan
Hey, isn’t this what we’ve talked about in the last two steps?
Yes it is. Rework your plan and keep reworking it as you go.
You’ve now surpassed what stops many and this is where the real traction begins!
We’ll leave this one simple as I hope the idea should already have been conveyed. It’s stuff we all pretty much know, but when things don’t go our way, it’s very, very easy to lose sight of.
Implement Some More
Wow, all that was stressful. All these things we didn’t account for, but came up with a realization for.
This is ONLY THE BEGINNING, but now the traction really starts. When you’re able to get over that initial hurdle, that’s when the accomplishments that are part of the plan actually start happening.
Keep implementing, keep revisiting and keep implementing more!
Constantly be Reworking the Plan
Oh wait, are we mentioning this yet again? Yes we are!
For people who accomplish intensive things, this keeps going until the end.
Technology is intensive and it also involves unforeseen things. If you’re going to accomplish these intensive things, you just have to keep going with this.
To coin a Bruce Hornsby song: “That’s just the way it is…”
(probably one of the most significant realistic songs in American…and world culture) (the abstract message of just the title is very realistic)
Always be Looking at Alternatives to Stay on Course
This one has been the hardest thing for me to learn. I’m someone who gets a challenge and the success is the solution.
It’s not uncommon in the tech sector for the solution to sometimes take longer than we envisioned. Anyone who has operated in this space will tell you this. Anyone.
I’ve been fortunate to have some guidance with this one to set an overall stop to application to assess alternatives.
I suggest making this a part of your plan revisiting, but more relative to the application.
Often the choices are to re-align how to manage the time requirements or look for a more simple solution.
There are many situations where simplicity and a more simple choice that overall accomplishes the objectives or accomplishes some array of them is a better choice to effect the ability to accomplish the overall plan.
This one can be hard for challenge based people, but it’s a very wise skill to learn and one that can be difficult to people who are driven by accomplishment.
We get in our minds that getting through to the particular planned solution IS SUCCESS. Sometimes it’s not.
It’s taken me many years of working with some of America’s top innovators to learn this myself, so I know it’s not easy.
Don’t Forget the People and be Open to New Ideas
We often get so focussed on the requirements of our plan and them working out the way we envisioned, we forget the people who have invested hard work into our ideas and passion.
We’ll be mentioning this twice, but don’t turn on the people. It’s human nature to place blame when things don’t go wrong. We’re taught not to be judgemental, but there is something in our human mind that often makes our first inclination to want to do this.
This stuff is complicated. It’s why there are only a small number of people in the world that can actually deliver results.
Here we are on a big long blog post about it. It’s not simple. Technology implementation is not simple. Content production is not simple. Building features is not simple.
None of it.
So we all do it to some degree and then feel bad about it. Having a pre-focus to realize this as it’s occurring can be invaluable and make the difference between success and failure (or at the least major delay)
Avoiding this and re-assesing and accounting for unforseen circumstances can and will save the day and will lead to success.
Without the people who can accomplish what you want, you just create an additional circumstance.
Sure, you can get back out of it, there’s always more people out there somewhere, but it’s a big, big gamble.
Many people in this industry talk, but when it comes time to plan effectively and actually deliver results, they do not.
They do not have this re-assess and pivot skill or just either believe they have the skills to do something, but don’t really understand the complexity of it themselves.
Treat the people around you well and your results will be well.
Stay on Course Through Completion
So with all this constant revisting and adjustment, you’ll have gained the ability to get to your goals, even if they have changed.
Keep going and don’t let any of the stages eat you up or keep you from moving forward. They don’t have to.
If something isn’t working, rework it. Doing this constantly will get you through your goal completion and you’ll have results. (probably even along the way, depending on the endeavor)
No Plan? Do Something, Not Nothing
Don’t know what to do? Run some experiments. I’m always experimenting with different things and this is generally the way I come up with idea of things that can improve my business or help advance something online to be better.
Many of these turn into nothing, but several do and several of these have turned into very interesting, arguably great things.
There’s nothing wrong with setting out without a plan and just doing things. It’s not optimum, but it’s often required and leads to a plan with greater objectives.
Even for even, the man who has ideas and does nothing vs. the person who just tries things with application, the second person will see some results from their time spent.
People who do little will often label those that try things a certain way. For some, this can be what holds them back. Don’t let it do that to you.
Have a Plan to Deal with the Stressors
My solution to escape is prayer, meditation, virtual reality development and spending time with my partner. Maybe your’s is different and that’s ok.
If you need a drink or to socialize to escape, need to watch a nice long movie or do some writing, having an escape mechanism in my mind is essential. Problems and stresses never stop. Just the idea that you have something to look forward to that is your escape can in itself keep you going.
The capability of learning to be less reactive and stepping back is something that requires constant work, but it can be the make or break in success and embracing the re-alignment strategies.
And we’ll mention this again. Don’t get mad at the people. People who have joined in on your endeavor believe in you and what you are doing. Don’t let stresses that could otherwise be managed (somewhat easily) affect your relationship with the people who have chosen to stand behind you.
It’s our human nature to not look to ourselves and try to figure out what other people have done wrong. This is something I think we all do, become reactive.
I still work on this to this day, albeit, I’ve made great strides and it’s no longer a major part of my life, but every now and then, I can see my thinking go that way. I feel grateful I’m able to realize it.
It’s taken working with several of the greatest innovators for me to learn to embrace this, but I’ve noted this as one of the greatest success contributors amongst the successful people I’ve dealt with over the years.
Those I’ve worked with that are flexible and try to understand the entirety of every situation. I can documentably point to their success. That’s a pretty tremendous annotation.
It can be very easy to get caught up on not continue to engage out of frustration of non-result stages (sometimes there’s work leading up to where you see actual results). Being able to manage these frustration stressors is also a key to being able to navigate a plan through to the end.
Out of Ideas? “Just Write”
This has been a big one for me. I’ve pretty much learned this from Matt Mullenweg, one of the key founders of WordPress. I don’t think he coined this phrase specifically, but every time I don’t really know where to put my effort, I use him as an example in my mind. He’s always writing. I mean, he’s never stopped. I can almost envision Matt there in my head saying: “Just Write” It’s a little strange, but these are the things that go through my head *laugh*
My personal challenge this coming year and my implementation plans all pretty much revolve more around writing. I’ve done quite a bit in my time, but in my older age, I’m now looking back at what I’m leaving behind on the internet and I want to make it better. Part of that is also putting things on a WordPress.com Web Developer blog as I personally really like the type of homegrown user that this space attracts and have been fortunate to meet several people who were working for Automattic, the company that operates WordPress.com at several WordCamps. I’ve written a bunch over the years, I’ve helped a lot of people to write, but it’s been a few years since I’ve made it a more permanent part of my own time allocation.
If you just schedule some time to write, whether it’s social networking, blog posts, really whatever, this is how to reach people. That’s one thing I truly believe.
Reaching people this way leads to ideas, sharing knowledge, points of view, perspectives and puts us in connection with other people. We can do this by talking to those around us, which is great, but writing opens the doors to reaching an entirely different group of people who in themselves have a lot to offer by way of experience, advice and ideas.
So really, when I set out to write this post, I thought it would just be a couple paragraphs, but it ended up being a little more. Six cups of coffee worth. Yes, 6!
I hope it will resonate with some and maybe help someone to get their ideas together and have a better chance of success.
Let’s go! We’re in This Together!