Implementation Intent

“Never mistake activity for results”

John Wooden

Business strategy overall is hard to apply in the context of small business. The key to making strategy work for you is all about intention planning, which when done right increases your likelihood of achieving your goals by 100%. The first step of strategy is setting your missional intent and then creating your strategic intent. The final step is implementation intent.

Implementation intent is the day-to-day tactics you will employ to move closer to your strategic objectives. As you are deciding what these activities are, it is important to be aware of the difference between leading activities and lagging results. We need to know what our lagging result will be and what preceding activity will have an effect on that results. The leading activities are the tactics we are working on that will result in the lagging effect we are wanting. Differentiating between leading and lagging metrics is critical. Next, you need to make sure that the activity is leveraged. We need to choose the inputs that will most affect the change we are looking for.

Activities That Get Results

When you are deciding on what your leading activities will be, here are some keys to keep in mind

  • Predictable. Within a level of certainty, we have to know that the activity we are working on will move the needle predictably on our result. If you have close to 100% certainty on this, then you need to get certain. One first step is that you can either talk to people that have achieved similar results you are looking for.
  • Measurable. One way to be certain that your activity will have a predictable result is to measure progress. If you are implementing consistently an activity that you think should move the needle on the result, but things aren’t changing, it might be time to change the tactic. Another way to be certain is to just jump right in and measure for feedback as you go.
  • Focused. In your business, there is most likely a limited amount of time and money resources. Limits like this are actually a good thing because it causes you to focus. It forces you to decide what your most important next steps are. When utilized well, focus becomes an important asset.  Focus means you are saying no to activities that won’t noticeably move the needle on your objectives.  

As an example, if you wanted to grow sales to $500k, the next leading metric might be 50 deals (assuming each deal is worth $10k on average), then you might need 250 presentations (if you had a 25% close rate) and then 1,000 leads (assuming a 25% lead to presentation rate). You would want to place each of these metrics on the dashboard so that you would easily know the progress towards your goal numbers and you would quickly be able to receive feedback on areas that need improvement.

Once you have your leveraged leading activity, you then decide the metrics to track for feedback on progress. The last step is to make those metrics visible on a dashboard.

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