Process and Solution

My husband and I live in two different worlds.  I like to get to solution, and he loves process.  As we’ve been furnishing our house, we will look for something—a bed, chairs, a lamp—and when I find something I quite like, I am done.  For him, that is just the beginning.  I want something that I am happy with.  He wants the best thing that is out there.

I find that odd, inefficient, not effective.  There will always—to my way of thinking—be something that might be better, more beautiful, more appealing.  More to the point, your tastes change; needs morph; newer, shinier, more up-to-date things are released.  It is, I think, a fool’s errand to look for the best possible.  Look, rather, for the thing that serves its purpose now and which makes you happy, satisfied, feeling like you’ve reached a good resolution.

Some of my clients are very much like my husband.  They love process, planning, formatting and reformatting.  But they don’t ever want to get unstuck from start.  Implementation?  That seems to be a dirty word.  So we talk about the development plan, but they stop short—sometimes way short—of actually getting the steps on a calendar.  Or the list of top prospects never gets translated into an actual, written list.  One that is looked at, studies, researched, moved.

In order to make those moves, you must first be committed to a goal.  And you have to create a deadline.

I am a pretty inner directed person, but I find that if I don’t set a specific date of when I must get something done, that something doesn’t get completed.

More than just setting the date, I have to put it on a calendar and be very clear with myself that by this date I will finish (or start!) this specific thing.

If the deadline is somewhat in the distance, Id best set benchmarks along the way to ensure that I am actually getting done what needs to be done to meet my goal.

As with so many things, success begins with clarity.  You must be clear not just about what you want to achieve but also why.

Fundraising, for example, is far more successful if the fundraiser has clarity about the needs of the organization.  Just telling someone—even yourself—that you must raise X amount of dollars is not compelling enough.  Understanding that the work that is being done at your organization will take those $X to accomplish will put meaning on the goal.  Having an understanding that money will not just show up like magic because you need it also helps.  So seeing how each step in that (written, please!) plan moves you closer to that goal will work wonders on getting things done.

One of the projects I work with takes the participants way out of their fundraising comfort zones.  And while the purpose of the project is to raise money for endowment, the real results I see is a change in the way these organizations think about—and do—fundraising.  Success, the funders think, is raising a certain amount of endowment.  Success, I think, is understanding that fundraising is not simply asking those close in for an amount of money they can easily expend.  It is about building relationships, reaching out to larger constituencies, moving prospects from kind of knowing about you to understanding why you matter. From understanding to actually caring about who you are and what you do and to becoming involved with your cause, your mission, your purpose.  And from involvement, getting truly committed to insuring that what you do is fully supported and resourced.

That takes a process.  Yes.  Which is why my husband and I actually don’t live in two different worlds.  What we do is live in a continuum, where his process enhances my solutions and my need for closure ensures that the process doesn’t become an end in and of itself.

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