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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

First published April 12, 2020

Where to Start When You Don’t Know Where to Start 

In responding to COVID-19, it feels like we’re at least coming toward toward the end of the initial ‘OMG’ phase.

Most folks I’m working with have by now done as much triage as possible, made short-term pivots where needed, and are now looking to begin to construct a more robust medium- to long-term response.

By far the most frequent question I’m dealing with in my work is “Where Do I Start?” – which is understandable, given the breathtaking scope of what COVID has wrought.

But it so happens that this is one question I do know the answer to. Watch the video or read the transcript below for the answer:

Please leave your questions and observations in the comments below!

Running time: 08′ 13″     Don't forget to leave your comments below!

Read Transcript

Hi, welcome to this remarkable Easter Sunday.
It's just an incredible time.It's unlike any other I think that we've experienced in our lifetimes and you know, as I've reflected in a couple of past videos over the last few weeks, one of the things that we're fighting with a lot is uncertainty - just what to do next.
And as we begin, I think, to slowly come to the end of the immediate shock, triage stage that we've been through - I'm not saying we're right past that but I feel like we're coming towards the end of that first OMG-type moment and we've done all of the triaging that we can do - we're now starting toc move towards the stage where we've got to begin to think, "Well, what do I do now?"
You know if if we've stopped the bleeding so to speak (and forgive me for the poor metaphor), but if we've done as much of that as we can, we're beginning, I think, to emerge towards the point where we're starting to say, "Well, what does this all mean? And where do I start?"
And I must say that is the one thing I know the answer to. 
There's a lot of uncertainty going around, but one thing I absolutely do know the answer to and I've been sharing with all of my clients - my coaching clients, my consulting clients, is this is where you need to start right here.

This is what in Predictable Success terms we call the Scalability Matrix, and I'm not going to teach this right here. 
I may go into a lot more detail in some future sessions and I'll share that with you in just a second or two, but I just want to show this to you in order to identify specifically where it is that we have to start in order to start making some forward momentum. 
Now, what is the Scalability Matrix?
It's the 13 things that you've got to get right in order to be in that stage of growth that we call Predictable Success. In other words to regain your health as an organization, you're going to end up working on these 13 areas.
Now again,as I said, in this short video I'm not going to explain the 'whys'of that - the 'why's and wherefore's', as my mother would have said, but I do want to show you what the implication of the Scalability Matrix is. 
In 'normal' times - to use what is now I think a pretty laughable phrase - in 'normal times' there are two one of two starting points in this Scalability Matrix. 
One is right over here on the left hand side where it says Org Chart. And normally - forgive me for using that phrase - if you're a growing organization on the left side of the life cycle, you're growing and you want to get into Predictable Success and stay there - get inordinately healthy - you start with the org chart.
I'm not going to explain why, I'm not even going to explain what it is that we do there. I just want to point out, it's the starting point. 
And if you're a larger organization, perhaps on the decline stage of the Predictable Success lifecycle, then we start over here on the right hand side with Hiring. And again, I don't want to take up time in this short video to explain why that is, or even what we do about that. I just want to point out that those are the two usual starting points.
For now - for where we are here at this time and in this moment, no matter where you are on the lifecycle you need to start right up here at the top. 
Right now the biggest single challenge - the point at which you've got to start with, is Innovation.
We've got to start thinking "What are the long-term permanent, behavioral and market changes that have impacted the industry that I sell into or the people that I serve?"
How has what we did before changed permanently, and innovate in and towards that. 
And of course part of the challenge is in understanding what changes may have occurred that are going to turn out to be temporary, or only semi-permanent. 
Take any industry - take air travel. Of course there's been a massive shift in the volume of air travel. What degree of that is semi-permanent and what degree of that change is permanent? What about people's travel habits? If you're in that industry, you've got to work that out.
If you're running a church, you'll know that the shift towards online worship has been hugely accelerated by what's just happened. You've almost certainly had to innovate like crazy unless you were already ahead of the curve, in order to respond to that.
But to what degree is that going to be permanent, and to what degree is it going to be temporary or semi-permanent?
And therefore where you've got to start is with Innovation.
Now this is not a video about how to innovate - again in a second or two I'll share a little bit more about how we can do get a little deeper with that if you want. I just want to point out if you want to know where to start, this is where to start. 
Now then depending on what side of the growth curve you're in, the next step is a little different.
If you're a younger, growing organization, you need to link directly to this Imperative here - Empowerment. What does that mean? It means you've got to empower your people to innovate.
You've got to be speaking with them, communicating with them, sharing with them - having two-way dialogues and finding out what actually works on the ground because - again, I haven't time to go into it in great detail - if you're a younger, growing organization that communication channel will be pretty short and healthy, and you can take what you'll be told anecdotally as a very close proxy to what will actually work.
If on the other hand, you're a larger organization and you're going to innovate, you probably have a major training - or I should say retraining - job ahead of you. If you just take the airline industry again as an example, or if you're a church,take the move to online worship. If you're a very large organization, you're probably already finding you're having to retrain your people as to how they show up.
Okay, that's just the briefest indication or the briefest answer to the one question I know the answer to, which is "Where do I start?". Start by innovating.
Now, I'm thinking of running - as many of you will know, I do a free MasterClass each year. I usually do it around September or October, but I'm strongly thinking of doing a detailed in-depth, free MasterClass on just this point. 
How do we start with Innovation? 
How do you innovate in the face of what's going on?
What do you do in order to make sure that the innovations that you work towards are the right ones, and then what are the next steps?
How does the rest of the Scalability Matrix decide what you do next with your Innovation?
So how to innovate, then how to execute on that Innovation and then what to do next. if that's something that you'd be interested in then just indicate that by dropping your email address into the box below.
I'm not going to do anything with that other than see that there is an interest for me to run that free Masterclass.
And as always please leave your comments down below. I love to hear what you think of these videos.
I'm Les McKeown.Let's start innovating.

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  1. Thank you, Les for your thoughtful remarks on innovation. In an earlier webinar of yours that I attended, I understood you to say smaller organizations in today’s pause should not start working on new efforts requiring innovation, that they should solely focus on “Holding onto what they have.” Any thoughts?

    1. Not so much a question of being smaller, Tom – more about being in Early Struggle. If you hadn’t found your market yet (before this hit), then a pause is a good idea as the market is likely to hugely change. Hope this helps!

  2. Les, thanks for the information. I’m at a church, and we are innovating a ton. I love it and hate it all at once. I’ve wondered what our next step should be. Thanks for the insight!

  3. Les – appreciate your thoughts as always. This pandemic has stymied our economy but we can’t afford to stop planning our way forward – some semblance of “normal” will return at some point and we need to be ready to act.

  4. Les, thank you for this video. We are definitely deep into innovation now. It is exhilarating because we are really coming together as teams.

  5. I think to answer the question where do you start? It depends on how much resilient are you ? I would be good to start assessing the current opportunities, risks , people, projects and cash

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