Written by David Ormesher on May 5, 2010
It was a successful week in Rwanda of informal networking, one-on-one coaching, and a full-day workshop for the many entrepreneurs involved with GRDP's Creating A Bigger Future program.
On Tuesday night, many of us gathered at the Laico Hotel for coffee and snacks to get caught up with each other in an informal setting. It didn't take long for the conversations to turn to business and innovation and how to take advantage of the many growth opportunities in Rwanda. The discussion continued over dinner as a few of us migrated outside to the patio and a delicious buffet dinner.
As usual, I began with the Positive Focus, an excellent tool for setting a healthy perspective for the day. Everyone took ten minutes to reflect on and write down the five most important personal and professional accomplishments since our last workshop. Then we broke up into small groups of 3-4 to share our accomplishments. This is always the inflection point early in the day when the mood in the room turns from anticipation to excitement. There is a palatable rise in energy as reports of positive achievements bounce around the room. It's a healthy discipline to take time to pause and reflect on all the good things that have happened in the past quarter.
After we do the Positive Focus, we go around the room and reintroduce ourselves along with mentioning one or two of our achievements. I take the opportunity to update everyone on GRDP and remind the group about the importance of the entrepreneur in Rwanda as an agent of change and growth.
DSQ, DOS, and Three Year Planner
After refreshing our DSQ (Dan Sullivan: "If we were meeting here three years from today, looking back over those three years, what has to have happened during that period for you to feel happy about your progress?") and our DOS (Dangers, Opportunities, and Strengths) worksheets to reflect any changes in the last 90 days, we turned to our Three Year Planner to review our progress to date. One of the most important aspects of this program is our accountability to each other to do quarterly reviews of our progress. The Three Year Planner requires us to report our progress by quarter and the percentage completion we've made towards our goals. We spent time updating our Planners, including adding new goals as necessary. Then we broke back into small groups to review our progress with each other and brainstorm ways to move forward. It was exciting to see the progress that so many entrepreneurs had made even since January!
Every entrepreneur faces points in time when reality doesn't meet up with the aspirations of our the "Ideal." Fortunately, there is a way to train the brain to avoid the guilt and discouragement that can come when this happens.
I used the metaphor of the horizon as an example of a "mental construct" that is real in our minds, but that is impossible to every actually reach; the horizon keeps moving out away from us as we try to get closer.
In the same way, our "Ideal" for what we want to accomplish is a mental construct, and there will always be a difference between that picture in our minds and our actual achievements. This is what we call The Gap. How do we manage with the frustration of not reaching our Ideal? Instead of measuring our progress against where we want to eventually go, the trick is to turn around and measure our progress by how far we've actually come. It is usually much more significant that we thought, and this realization gives us encouragement and confidence that we are making progress.
The Strategy Circle
As entrepreneurs, according to Dan Sulivan, each of us has three brain abilities:
1. Vision - the ability to see future possibilities
2. Opposition - the ability to see all the possible obstacles to achieving our vision
3. Transformation - the ability to transform those obstacles into strategies for achievement
To help make Transformation part of our entrepreneur skill set, I introduced The Strategy Circle®. This is a powerful tool for isolating all the potential obstacles to a goal, and then identifying specific strategies for each obstacle.
As a practical application of the tool, everyone chose one of their goals from their Three Year Planner. By listing all the possible obstacles to this goal and then identifying specific strategies to attack and remove each obstacle, we were able to develop practical plans for implementing our goals. Everyone took 15 minutes to work through his or her own Strategy Circle, and then we used the small groups to share and brainstorm each person's plan.
By the end of the morning, we had updated our Three Year Plans, determined which goals were on track, gained confidence in how far we had already come, and then practiced using The Strategy Circle®, a powerful tool for putting together a practical plan to address our goals for the next quarter.
We had a wonderful buffet networking lunch at the Laico Hotel, and then returned to the conference room for the afternoon sessions.
Leadership and Impact
David Helmer, a board member of GRDP as well as an entrepreneur and CEO of Helmer, Inc., a medical supply manufacturer, was up first with a presentation called Leading for Impact. He discussed the differences between a manager and a leader. David spoke about the importance of healthy leaders, the value of purpose in the lives of employees, and concluded with a practical nine-step process for implementing servant leadership.
A Practical Financial View of Your Business
Bruce King, CEO/COO of Helmer, Inc., bridged the important aspects of planning and execution from an operations perspective. He demonstrated how important it is in planning to move from the 30,000 foot perspective down into the weeds to better understand from a customer perspective what the priorities of the business need to be. He gave very practical advice on building a financial "dashboard" of key business metrics, and showed how financial reporting that help an entrepreneur make fact-based decisions about growth and investment.
We wrapped up promptly at 5pm, and many members signed up for individual one-on-one consultations the next morning. All in all, it was another full workshop packed with both strategic planning and practical business concepts.