INTERNAL SCORECARD #10
This is the tenth internal scorecard I've published. I started it as a bit of an experiment -- I thought it'd be interesting to share and show my thoughts on production and productivity, and it would be valuable for readers here to see ups and downs that come with building a nonprofit organization while maintaining a solo consulting practice, and then mixed with personal interests in creativity, health/fitness, etc.
So far, it's been pretty good and people seem to love these. This one covers 21 July to 27 July.
A STUDY IN CONTRAST
I remember reading a book as a young boy, maybe eight years old. One of the characters was described as square-jawed, confident, rough-and-tumble, and of bold nature. I thought to myself, "I want to be like that!"
Then, a chapter or two later, another character was described as mild-mannered, elegant, refined, charismatic, and welcoming. I thought to myself, "I want to be like that!"
And then I thought -- wait! These are somewhat exclusive characteristics! And I was puzzled. How could being rough and being elegant both be appealing and desirable states of being?
And the answer is, they hold sway in different ways, and appeal in different contexts. Some settings befit being rough-and-tumble; others favor a refined elegance. This week, we're going to discuss two such ideals:
"Deeper Foundation, Taller Building" and,
"Production, Production, Production, Production, Production"
DEEPER FOUNDATION, TALLER BUILDING
Last week's Internal Scorecard was titled "Reestablishing Order." My habits and routines had gotten off-track through a mix of good and bad happenings, and I reestablished them last week. It was a solid week. My production itself was adequate -- not exceptional but adequate -- but more importantly, it set the stage with correct fundamentals in terms of sleep, planning, prioritization, fitness/health/nutrition, and so on.
This week I had very good production -- both high creativity and excellent processing and execution on more routine work and habits.
I also greatly added to general infrastructure. Here are the things I started or re-focused on:
*A new time-tracking sheet in Evernote [I'll post my most recent version in the next few days]
*iDoneThis, single person account
*General to-do list
*Planning the day the night before, referring to the plan throughout the day
*A list of every team member on GGW, to be looked at daily to ensure nothing falls through the cracks
*The GGW Trello with a list of all deals I'm to work on
*A text file with a list of everyone I have to follow up with
*Expense tracking and calorie tracking in Evernote
…and I finally created a workable Dashboard to tie everything together, which is something I've been trying to get right for a couple years.
(But note: Do not emulate this or start emulating this before reading the next section after this one.)
Even still, I'm a little out of order here. I started by writing out a list of every single problem holding my production back. This was done over a few days on different scraps of paper, text files, etc. But here are a few examples:
"I usually am not starting the day with my highest priority items."
"I don't know my net worth or my inflows/outflows on cash."
"My followup is inconsistent."
"I don't have detailed to-do lists I'm completing."
"I'm not communicating with GGW team members."
I kept asking the question, "What it is holding back my results?" and writing the answers. It is a place to be starkly honest, and to try to evaluate the problems so as to design solutions for them.
I then brainstormed a bunch of different possible solutions, investigated a number of high-tech and low-tech options for fixing things, and came together with the list above.
It breaks down like this: I have 10-15 key areas in my life. As a CEO/leader-type person, it's hard to get lower than that. I've punted on as many functions as I can, but just serving my clients well in consulting and doing basic upkeep gives me 2-3 key points to focus on minimum. GiveGetWin/CPNC has at least 5 key areas. Then I've got another 2-5 areas with things like personal finance, health, family. And there's following up with People in general, which is key to success for everyone. So, 10-15 areas. Even after I've cut and focused as much as I can, given the track I'm on (and I like this track and find it very suitable).
At all times, some of it has been out of balance. So instead, I built a system around constantly making me look at the key result areas, inputs, numbers, and metrics. I finally was able to create a paper dashboard using a mix of paper with notes/sticky notes that are on the big cardboard board above my desk, I set some rules for its usage, and I created some technology solutions to refer back to daily.
I don't think I can simplify further than this; I've looked for simple technologies that are comprehensive. But I need something to check off daily for habits (Lift), I need a way to keep track of general production (iDoneThis), and right now I'm benefitting heavily from time tracking/expense tracking/calories/routines (Evernote time tracking sheets). Then… I have a list of people to followup with, a list of all the GGW team members to look at daily and see if I can do/coordinate/sync-up-with/deliver-anything-to each one, we track upcoming deals in Trello… as you can see, there's not many logical cuts. I could standardize a couple things to one piece of tech or file, but it'd be forcing it to a less elegant solution.
For what it's worth, I've toured some very high profile organizations recently (was a guest at some marketing/sales meetings at a millions-of-dollars funded B2B tech startup, was a guest/contributor to a U.S. federal government coordination meeting, and was inside a top nonprofit all during my last trip in the USA). Guess what? They all have a bunch of disparate ununified tools that they glue together and make do. And CEO/leader/Executive Director types have to deal with it all. And I'm one of those.
So, I built the relevant infrastructure to keep myself looking at the right stuff, planning the night before, starting with it on the morning, and looking at it through the day. And doing the inputs/tracking in a way I can keep on top of metrics.
The idea being, last week we established basic order. Now, I was able in a mix of thoughtfully working at it and inspired frenzy to create a system that should map to staying on top of all my core roles.
However! See the next point.
PRODUCTION, PRODUCTION, PRODUCTION, PRODUCTION, PRODUCTION
Of course, in the description of the rough-and-tumble cowboy and the refined gentleman, we see the roles aren't completely at odds. They're not pure opposites or enemies. But they are something that, as you move towards one, you have to make sure you're liking where you're going.
This is important:
You need to be really damn careful that you're not generating good feelings *and no production* when you're doing all these abstract initiatives. Production must PRECEDE infrastructure to the extent it's possible to do so.
In other words, you want to do a pilot and basic sales testing before investing tons of money in a new business initiative. You also want to have a handle on useful and productive activities before trying to formalize them.
We've got a working system at GGW and the top team members there are already thriving quite well. By putting time into my worthwhile initiatives there, production goes up. Likewise, I know what I'm doing and thriving socially right now. I'm being introduced and referred to more people than I can consistently handle having social calls with (current median time of scheduling a social call with someone I don't know: six weeks out). And my personal initiatives are all ones I can execute on consistently and have done so in the past (fitness, expense tracking, time tracking, etc).
I would strongly recommend against building infrastructure theoretically. Like, don't set up a CRM system if you've never sold before. Just be disorganized for a short while and make a lot of calls. For god's sake, don't delay making sales calls to set up a CRM and nonsense. You likewise don't need brochures, business cards, or any such accouterment. All you need is a sincere desire to help, great questions to ask (research/prep/brainstorm those thoroughly), and some tenacity.
I had high production this week on my endeavors. I did a lot of Work work. I pushed a lot of stuff out, processed a lot, got good time into creativity that'll do long-term development, pushed a lot on GGW (I spent the bulk of three days just editing interviews and writing marketing copy for the next three deals I'll personally launch, which was satisfying and is very production-oriented).
Why do I bring this up here? Because this has actually been a problem at GGW. I've fallen into the trap with a few team members of constantly talking about planning and infrastructure without pushing production. Now, some of that is necessary, and we need to keep doing that. We need to improve coordination, reduce friction, etc.
But a lot of times, we've gotten projects and deals to the dreaded "between 40% and 85% complete" range, where they don't get finished.
The last 15% of anything is brutal to get done, because it's where you have to start abandoning your assumptions and platonic ideals, compromising, and realizing whatever you were trying to do is not going to go perfect and smoothly in an abstract sense.
Most people lack the focus and killer instinct to do this. I don't mean most people here, since I imagine the average reader here is MASSIVELY further along than the population average. But even that, too. The vast majority of everyone on Earth lacks the killer instinct to relentlessly focus in Terminator Mode on getting things done and pushing production out. Many, many, many projects die at 85% complete, especially if there's no external deadlines or accountabilities.
What's that mean?
We've had a ton of conversations that are infrastructure-oriented, planning-oriented, etc at GGW. These are necessary and will in fact become the backbone of GGW growing to a tremendous organization.
But the production has been barely adequate, and I haven't been leading the charge on that. I've been focusing on digging the foundation deep, laying down pipes and electrical wirings and plumbing and WiFi internet, and whatever else, but we're not launching the volume of deals that makes sense and we're not making that consistent money for charity and delivering those consistent great deals that serve the deal provider well and gives the people putting their cash down amazing value.
We're running a few deals, but we're not killing it on that front. And that's on me, for thinking "Deeper Foundation" (teamwork tools, management, coordination, resources) in order to get that very tall building (world changing organization, inspiration for others to massively upgrade their fundraising, doing hundreds of thousands or more annually for charity and delivering great results to thousands of people)… while neglecting the Production, Production, Production, Production, Production!
The fact is, we've got to keep producing while building. Ok, we want a skyscraper. Good, great. But we need to keep a standard of production up at the same time.
So I'm happy on two fronts: first, I've got some great infrastructure and tools that seem like they'll help a lot. But more importantly, I'm ensuring that the Production is happening. This week was good in terms of delivering results to my consulting clients, Zach launched a good GGW deal and I've got three more ready to go once it's sold out, I got time into some asset-building (you'll see some of that shortly), and I was on track in terms of staying in touch with people, following up, connecting and collaborating, and with my various personal habits and life.
If you're in build-infrastructure mode, make sure you set a minimum production standard and don't go below that. That's a problem I'm naturally prone to since I love designing and inventing, but something I'm focusing on so as not to go all the way down that spiral.
Leisure and fun aside, we build tools and infrastructure to produce with, and we need to be producing to have those tools and structures support us. If you're not doing the hardcore production-oriented activities, start. If you're not getting results, more time into production. It's after you're pushing production that organizing and expanding your infrastructure makes sense, and almost always do it in parallel with producing.
DALIO OF THE WEEK
"75a) Hold yourself and others accountable. It is unacceptable for you to say you won’t fight for quality and truth because it makes you or other people uncomfortable. Character is the ability to get yourself to do the difficult but right things. Get over the discomfort, and force yourself to hold people accountable. The choice is between doing that properly or letting our community down by behaving in a way that isn’t good for you or the people you are “probing” and coaching." -- Ray Dalio, Principles; page 82
Brief analysis: A lot of juice and wisdom in that short paragraph. To me, that's also synonymous with going beyond good feelings and good attempts, and getting into production. If you're aiming to change the world, you gotta make that change happen.
That'll do it for this week. Lots of interesting other things I could put into this IS, but I'll just flesh out the relevant details for you over some blog posts over the next week. Do share comments and questions below, though, cheers.
Awesome as always.
Firstly, thanks for the response last week on diet - very useful - I'm going heavy on the veggies.
Re the dashboard you've developed- will you be covering this in a separate post, or able to give some insight now - I think this would be a very useful tool. I'd find this HUGELY beneficial
Re follow ups - I hight recommend exploring Contactually as a piece of software.
Slightly over a week ago, I committed to having the most productive 90 days of my life -- and sharing it all with you publicly. I wanted to make huge advances in my core projects, some large personal gains, and -- crucially -- I wanted to come out of this cycle feeling the strongest and healthiest of my life. So, more production than ever before, and being alive, engaged, and energized at the end of it instead of burnt out.
What's happening after one week?
Well, there's good and back. First, there's a strange "I'm being watched!" feeling which slightly increases neurosis/anxiety... and accountability. That's been the most unexpected thing -- a feeling of, "Is this an activity I'd want to own doing publicly with my time, after making a big massive commitment?"
I don't like or dislike it, per se. It's a bit odd. Actually, ok, I like it. (Most of the time!)
Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog! As this is one of my first posts here I'd like to introduce myself and explain why I've called this blog No Status Quo.
My name is Emil and I'm a 21-year old student from Latvia. I've spent the last three years of my life studying in the United States and the Netherlands. I'm studying economics, psychology and mathematics. A strange combination, I know. I'm currently in my last semester, and I'm really looking forward to graduation.
Why? Well, I have some great plans after finishing college. But first let me start by explaining what I don't want to be doing after I graduate.
I no longer want to study at a university because all the world's knowledge is freely available on the Internet. If the world's greatest universities offer their lectures for free, why would I waste my time and money studying at an average institution? Sure, I might not get any credentials for what I learn online, but I want to live a life in which I'm rewarded for knowledge and hard work, not formal credentials.