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1° Makes All of the Difference

Strategic Planning

My whole life I have been taught to give 110% at everything that I choose to do. I learned along the way that there are various situations in which this applies. Growing up playing competitive soccer it meant to leave everything on the field at all times, and not let the little mistakes distract you from your teammate’s ultimate goal. Which initially was thought to win each game, but I later learned that it just meant to play at your highest level the entire game while working together with the others around you. In cross country it was to not let down until you crossed the finish line; in wrestling it was to give your all until the final slap of the hand on the mat, or the whistle blew; and in Taekwondo to look through and focus your energy beyond the board that you were trying to break.

At work, 110% became a stretch goal. The budgets, the sales forecasts, the return on investments were all set at 100%. but what happened if the results fell short of that budgeted/forecasted measurement that was at best, a guess for the financial performance of the outcome? It never seemed that the goal was increased once it was met, until the following metrics were decided and agreed upon by others in an executive board room.

It wasn’t until I came across a book by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson, 212° the extra degree that it all of the sudden made sense to me. The book starts “At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water; comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive.” Therefore that extra effort, that one degree of difference in the change of temperature, can make even the smallest things possible with a little more effort and understanding. But what is that extra one degree?

If one degree can make all of the difference, then what is that one degree for your professional career? Your business? Reaching the goals and objectives that you have set out to obtain? When I reflect back on my career, the choices that I have made along the way, and what that one degree of difference was. I have found that communication is at the foundation of everything that we do. What does that mean? Who we communicate to, What we choose to communicate, and How do we choose to communicate our messages to have a profound impact on our own definitions of: Who we are, what we do, and how we can help. Perhaps one of the most important reasons that we need to discover the way that we communicate is even deeper than that. Why do we do what we do?

The tools have already been developed, redeveloped, and even overly simplified. But what are those tools? I can talk about the tools that I created through my various positions in the workplace, management, and leadership, and that is to create a strong foundation of the messaging that we want to communicate and stay consistent throughout every aspect of delivery. Then what is the first step?

Some will argue that strategic planning, business planning, and simply writing down your goals are enough, others will argue that it falls short and doesn’t work. Regardless of who is right or not, learning about ourselves, our business, and what the anticipated outcome has a foundation of asking questions, finding the answers, and building those answers into a comprehensive communication tool that we can then share a common consistent message to others around us. Which includes our internal and external stakeholders of what the vision is of the person or persons involved with creating those answers. I still call this process of asking and answering, and researching the foundation to creating a Strategic Business & Marketing Plan. What is the benefit? To capture a specific point in time, what the thought leader, individual, team, or business owner’s understands of and goals for the viability and growth of their concept is.

We should all take the time to put our message down on the table, see where there are strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats to better understand how we plan to utilize, develop, capitalize, or create contingencies. A Strategic Business & Marketing plan becomes the thermometer that allows us to measure the various milestones, developments, and forecasts to find our own extra one degree. Almost everything can be measured, we just need to find and then define where that One Degree Is, that Makes All of the Difference.

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