How to Reach Your Full Potential with an Alignment Map
Insanity has been described as the impulse to keep doing the same thing over and over again in the hope of getting a different result. Innovation, in contrast, is applying a minuscule, ingenious twist to the exact same thing in order to achieve a better outcome. The true definition of creativity is knowing how to inject just the right amount of madness into a process so that you attain your goal. To gain insights to the improvements you can master, learn how to reach your full potential with an Alignment Map.
The bad news? You’ve got to take a seriously long, hard look at your assets – what you have to work with – and see things for what they are. That includes #1) your product / service offering, #2) your organization and #3) your financial resources and analytic tools. Be realistic. Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Your business is the same. Don’t pretend your weak links don’t exist or that something or someone can make up for the liability. It can’t. Maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. It’s the only viable path to take. But it still doesn’t ensure success.
If you want better results you’ve got to address performance weakness in your business. It exists, and it’s hurting you in a number of ways. The good news? This is where opportunities live. What’s at stake while problems persist? You are missing opportunities. And that’s always bad news. This process will show you how to assess performance weakness in your business with an Alignment Map.
The good news? An Alignment Map can help you reach your full potential.
And this means you can design solutions that become strengths, even disruptors that give you an edge.
Even the most savvy business leaders have a hard time wrapping their heads around persistent weaknesses that impact productivity and profitability. Diagnosing precisely where the weaknesses are, and what’s causing your problems is only the first step towards finding improvements that work, and scale. Finding and implementing improvements that work and scale takes innovative thought, trial and error and more than anything, a willingness to fail.
Either there’s a problem you have but don’t want, or there’s a result you want but don’t have.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when problems persist in your business, day in, day out. It’s not what you thought when you started out on this journey. But do you know what went wrong? Did you make assumptions that inevitably led you here, or did something change along the way? Either way, it’s likely time to come up for air and get perspective on your position and direction by implementing an alignment map.
Prepare an Alignment Map
By assessing your goals, resources, processes and analyses you can gain valuable insights on your strategy and the tactics that will take you to the next level—the result is an alignment map.
Managing a deep to-do list in a given functional area is one thing; managing a number of tasks across unrelated initiatives is something altogether different.
At the moment, you’re likely handling a bunch of semi-unrelated projects all of which have their own detailed tasks that need to be completed. Whether it’s a matter of expanding sales, developing or launching a new product, acquiring a business, or improving employee productivity and satisfaction, there are more than a few things competing for your attention.
If you’re not organized, I can almost guarantee that something will fall through the cracks
That’s why I recently developed what I call an Alignment Map. In an alignment map you rank the condition of your product / market fit, your organization fit and your financial fit to identify what’s keeping you from reach your objectives. It will also help you scale. Every business has two top priorities: 1) sustainable revenue growth and 2) quality of earnings.
I’ve found that the alignment map’s value is two-fold. First, it provides a solid visualization of everything you have on your plate and the relative complexity of each initiative.
Second, it helps you cut back on some of the less important tasks you have on your to-do lists. By visualizing each sub-task, you can easily identify duplicated tasks, tasks that can be delegated effectively or areas for efficiencies. It also helps you to focus only on the essential items, lest your alignment map become overly burdensome.
Plotting your journey with an alignment map will arm you with deep understanding of how to avoid avoidable troubles and improve your chance of success while transcending the cycles of your business’ life, as follows:
No matter where you are on your life cycle curve an alignment map will be a valuable tool to keep you on track for the next growth step. Startup and early stage businesses have the highest levels of support needs including product development, preparing a fantastic pitch deck to attract financing, a team of diverse, capable and intelligent heavy lifters, and expertise in finance to prepare achievable financial projections, manage cash carefully and know how to put an accurate cap table together to records who owns what.
Traction and growth stage companies have other priority needs more closely aligned to product evolution, process optimization, revenue expansion and profit management. Executives in these stages often expect different results from the repetition of activities their staff have been repeating for years and years. Peter Drucker wrote “the only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”
Over the years, I’ve discovered a few secrets that have helped me jumpstart my productivity when feeling overwhelmed.
Another tip is to honestly prioritize your goals and acknowledge the things that can cause you to become distracted.
As an entrepreneur, it’s all-too-easy to feel like everything on your plate is a top priority. Of course, if everything is a priority, nothing is.
Instead, I’ve developed a prioritization matrix that ranks tasks based on three factors: time, effort, and strategic importance.
There are certain things, such as preparing for a shoot date or conference, which have natural deadlines outside of your control. These time-constrained initiatives are easy to deal with since they’re somewhat out of your control.
Here’s a look at the importance of disciplined finance: