To stay focused, bake it into the cake

You have that grand vision of who you want to be, what you want to accomplish, or what you want to build.

How do you stay focused on the future, on creating that future, without getting lost in the present details?

Here are some of the steps we have taken at ACTA, in order to stay focused on our vision:

  1. Define the mission as clearly as possible: Clarity seems to come up a lot. Maybe that’s because it’s one of the biggest points of failure/frustration, and greatest causes for success. Without crystal clear missional clarity, what are we even focused on?
  2. Bake accountability into the cake: For us, we set up a board of directors long before we were big enough to really warrant a board of directors. The main reason was to keep us focused. Having a group of high level people we answered to, whose job it is to see the big picture, makes sure we have to stay focused. It makes sure we do so in the future as well.
  3. Build in unavoidable checkpoints: Hug deadlines. Deadlines are our best friend. Build them into your system. Tell your board, your advisors, your coach, whoever it is you answer to, that you are going to do X by Y date. Then have them hold your feet to the fire if you don’t.
  4. Course correct: Keep evaluating and reevaluating how you are doing: Frontside focus doesn’t just happen, and it’s a leader’s job to keep steering the ship back on course because it will veer off, you can be sure of that.
We can’t outsource execution or accountability, but we can recruit help.

There are ebbs and flows to life, business, and mission. Seasons. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. This is natural, but through it we have to find a way to stay focused on our mission if we are going to accomplish it.

I like the system “Plan, Do, Study, Act” from Deming’s system of quality management.

Plan. Execute. Study that execution. Act on the study. Rinse and repeat, in an ongoing cycle of forward progression.


This is part of 7 weeks of a daily writing experiment, while I’m less mobile recovering from surgery. This day #15 of 49. The last post was: