Today’s advice comes from Frank Ryle, author of the book Keeping Score: Project Management for the Pros
, via Portfolio.com:“The elements of the golf swing are a perfect metaphor to illustrate the key tips for entrepreneurs in the startup phase of any new venture or project.
A successful swing has five components, but they must be integrated seamlessly in order to achieve the perfect shot. You don’t have to play golf to benefit from the tips.”
1. Keep your eye on the ball (Initiating)
“The golfer must align the various parts of the swing (feet, shoulders, hands, and clubface), prior to initiating any movement. Similarly, the entrepreneur needs to align the new business idea (passions, skills, commitments, opportunities), before the planning kickoff…
[T]he entrepreneur should conduct a stakeholder analysis to ensure that the planning for a venture gets off on the right track.
During this initiation and for the rest of the swing the golfer maintains a close eye on the ball (a tip here is to try to read the text or number on it). Similarly, the entrepreneur needs to maintain focus and keep track of the business case.”
2. Pause at the top of the backswing (Planning)
“Likewise, the entrepreneur needs to find time to “pause” at the end of planning before “launching” into execution of the venture. The pause creates a trigger mechanism that allows you to create an end to the left-brain-driven logical and sequential thought processes that enable planning and to invite more of the right-brain and subconscious thought processes to start and flow.
Just as the orchestra conductor taps the baton on the stand to signal the beginning of the performance, so too should you call your team together for a kickoff meeting to signal the end of planning and the start of the fun part of the venture.”
3. Accelerate through the ball (Execution)
“Similarly, if you have carried out proper initiation and planning of the idea, then you should be in a position to enjoy the exhilaration of seeing your team perform with talent and speed…
A similar tip is to maintain focus on the business case by overcommunication during this expensive and critical stage of the venture. A simple way to do this is to continually ask the same three questions, mantra-like:
- Who is paying for this work?
- How will they get the money back?
- When will they get the money back?
If the answer to any of these questions varies from those obtained during the initiation of the idea, then it may be necessary to pause and initiate realignment again.”
4. Keep control of the ball in all conditions (Controlling)
“Similarly, the entrepreneur should create a simulation or testing environment within which the team can Say-Do-See for themselves. This requires a physical plan, a willing team, and an experienced facilitator.
The simplest way to achieve this is to take the individual steps from your timeline and copy them onto Post-it notes. These notes are then laid out on the floor in a large room. The team members walk out the steps together (and leave the room if not required), in order to try to simulate future project conditions. The facilitator can then observe the interactions and make appropriate alterations to the plan.”
5. Follow through and “hold it” (Closing)
“Entrepreneurs can copy this dedication to a balanced finish by:
- Planning with the end in mind
- Establishing critical success factors (CSF) and key performance indicators (KPI) early on in the project
- Creating a sense of enjoyment toward the end of the project
Similarly, amid every twist and turn in your venture, you need to focus on the key lessons to be learned, retained, and shared for the next day. Some say that golf is “a good walk spoiled.” I am with those who say that a bad day on the course is still better than a good day in the office. For entrepreneurs, there is nothing like striking out on your own—even the bad days can leave a smile on your face (after a while).”
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