Are families that know why they do what they do on to something? Scott McCulloch connects the dots.
Ah milestones. They happen in life. They’re a mainstay in business. Some are dull. Others are absolutely critical.
Learn to love milestones and your family business will have a secret weapon: ruthless efficiency.
There are countless tips on milestones and why they’re essential in business.
Here’s a gem from Entrepreneur magazine:
As you pitch investors, they’ll want to see where your company is going and what goals you aim to accomplish.
How does this apply to a family business? Your family are the investors. That means you are accountable to you, your family and your business.
In a sense, milestones drive good governance. They’re the junior partner of a scarier sounding business term called deliverables.
Deliverables is fancy project management jargon for the quantifiable goods or services provided upon completion of any given project.
For example, in an IT upgrade job, a deliverable may be new servers, while a software element may be delivery of a new program for inventory management.
Deliverables are big. Milestones are smaller, but they pack a punch in terms of business processes and family vision.
Here’s why: There is no real strategy without milestones.
Michael Lopp, vice-president of engineering at Slack, said it best when he quipped: “A milestone is less date and more definition.”
Milestones are used to manage responsibilities, track results, review and revise. If there’s no tracking, there’s no management and no accountability.
That’s not good governance.
But there’s a blinding array of project management software out there, all equipped with milestone functionality, I hear you say.
True. But software will not define your milestones.
Good milestones fit snugly with strategy. Just as you need tactics to execute strategy, you need milestones to execute tactics.
Developing milestones is a potent way to engage less experienced next-generation family members to think more deeply about where the family business is headed. For the senior generation, the exercise could help unlock untapped markets.
Develop your milestones by thinking through strategy, tactics and actions of your family business’s offering. Categorize what’s supposed to happen and when, and who’s responsible.
If the exercise is purely business, then include tactics that relate to products, services, marketing, administration and finance.
Tactics could include launch dates, review dates, prototype availabilities, advertising, social media, website development, lead-generation programs and web traffic.
Milestones set tactics into concrete terms – real budgets, real deadlines and management responsibilities.
They’re essential to your plan-versus-actual management and analysis, which is what turns planning into actual management.
If the milestone exercise takes a more family-related tack, say, implementation of a next-generation training program, then milestones might shape up as an initial family retreats followed by external work experiences, followed by internal mentoring, junior board roles and so on.
The key is to think through strategy, tactics and actions first. Milestones will emerge naturally afterward – and you’ll love them.
Because there’s nothing as reassuring as a solid plan.