Milestones – Three Anecdotes on Understanding What’s Driving Your Business

 

You can study all you like, but that work is not going to help your grade if you don’t study before the exam.

 

I pull up this example when we want our clients to understand how Milestones work in the Blue Lasso methodology. It may seem self evident that there are dates for which things are due, however Milestones are something a little more significant than a due date. Milestones are drivers for the work that you are doing. The best of intentions and preparation don’t matter if the student didn’t make it to the exam.

 

Milestones are typically determined by external factors or bodies. Milestones are immoveable and that means that the work that you are doing is must be done by that time or it is a wasted effort.

 

How do you know it’s a Milestone? Ask yourself, and ask your team “What happens if we do it after this date?” If the answer is, we fail completely then that’s most like the Milestone, and from there you start working backwards and putting in place all the work that needs to be done meet your Milestone.

 

Too often we see people mistaking the report, shipment, product or website launch as the Milestone simply because they have a due date. Milestones are the “why” behind the work.

 

We’ve talked about the student and the exam, let’s look at a couple more examples.

 

We recently worked with a client who was building out a plan for market visit by an executive from one of their vendors. The visit was just a few days, but it was crucial to driving market presence. The executive could only visit for a few days and wanted to have as much impact as possible. This was his only chance to visit. All of the meetings, demonstrations and industry events were determined

 

I just finished watching Apple’s Tim Cook announce new products at a Key Note. You can be certain that Key Note was a Milestone for all of the groups at Apple. You may argue with the timing of a conference, but once it is set it determines the workback dates. The product groups would have had to finalize production planning and prepared media and marketing material to accompany the product launches.

 

Perhaps the most common Milestone that can be digested is Christmas. Christmas Day is the unmoveable Milestone. It is driving people’s purchasing for all manner of gifts. They are trying to buy everything in time for Christmas Day. Most retailers operate in the red for the year until the fourth quarter when sales are driven by customers buying for Christmas. If you do all of your work just in time for Christmas Day then you are probably missing the point. People start their purchasing for Christmas day months in advance. With an understanding of the Milestone a proper plan would mean having working back from Christmas day and planning on having products shipped to retailers so that they are the shelves for Christmas season.

 

Common Milestones that we encounter in ordinary life, taxes, company fiscal end of year, wedding events like weddings. A small milestone that you might encounter is travel, making a flight on time, making your bus on time.