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Farm to Market: Moving Past the Planning-Doing Gap

March 30, 2011

When I moved to Texas, I discovered a lot of roads were named “FM” – FM 544, FM 2014, FM 3063. My husband explained to me that “FM” stood for Farm to Market and was the road farmers would travel to sell their goods. The farmer’s success wasn’t just about growing crops; it was about getting those crops to market and into the hands of consumers. Whether we’re talking about farming, sports, a court trial or training, while planning and preparation are critical elements, it’s the final execution that determines success.

When there’s a gap between planning and doing, I like to step back and identify my farm to market roadblocks. There could be several reasons why a project isn’t making it to the execution stage:

  • Am I departing from the norm? Change is not always welcomed. If I’ve done my homework and believe the new path is the right one, I need to be willing to champion my ideas and fight the fight. I have to back up my ideas with case studies, statistics, numbers, solutions and resources. Several clients have mentioned doing a Proof of Concept for technology initiatives. This is an excellent way to get buy-in and past the roadblock to execution.
  • Is ideology a factor? The ideology behind a project can be a roadblock. All decision makers may not meet the idea of giving incentives in addition to a salary with enthusiasm. Again, case-studies, statistics and hard evidence are needed to overcome this type of opposition. 
  • You want me to do what? As technology changes, processes change too. Is there a more efficient way of doing something, and does that new method affect current roles? As the attorney-secretary ratio increases and new technology becomes available, change is inescapable. To get past this roadblock, promote each level of benefits, from the firm, to the practice area, to the team, to the individual, down to the client.
  • I’m not the decision maker. True, but you can be an influencer. Develop credibility by documenting your success stories, building relationships with other leaders throughout the firm and creating an identity for yourself throughout the organization. Combined with doing your homework and presenting sound information supporting your ideas, you can promote yourself from follower to influencer.
  • Am I my own worst enemy? Taking control and wanting things to be just right are great qualities until they become roadblocks to execution. To keep things moving forward: ask for help, delegate tasks to others, implement in phases or reevaluate the scope of the project to remove superfluous items. Task out the project and set realistic deadlines, but don’t wait until you have finished preparing to schedule that training class or presentation, get it on the calendar to force yourself to be prepared. Got a PM on board? Talk to them about scoping out a project and setting deadlines.

My sister loves craft projects and jokes about how planning is half the fun. With umpteen boxes of fabric, craft supplies and drawers of unfinished projects, she started a blog Leslie Unfinished where she lists all the projects that she’s started and blogs about each as she finishes them…documenting her success stories. It’s given her inspiration, accountability and that little push she needed to get her projects from farm to market where she could consume and enjoy the finished product. I hope I’ve given you some ideas on ways you can reduce the planning-doing gap, find your inner “git-r-done” and get your training projects executed and to market also.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sherry permalink
    April 1, 2011 6:11 pm

    A fabulous post and incredibly visual analogy, Carolyn. Thanks!

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