Why Business and Children Should Come with Manuals

Baby in a box with setup disk and instructionsWhy Fire, Ready, Aim is a NOT a Strategy.

As the parent of a two-year old, I’ve come to realize that raising a child and running a business have quite a lot in common.  They are unpredictable, frequently keep me up at night and have caused me to question my sanity at times.

The most striking similarity, however, is neither one comes with an instruction manual.

My cell phone came with a 248 page manual.  My TV arrived with an encyclopedia of custom directions.  My husband’s watch came with a DVD manual.  Yes, a DVD manual on how to use a WATCH.  (A word of caution – if you need to view a DVD to use a watch, you probably shouldn’t leave the house unsupervised.)

Yet, I’m actively shaping the life of a little person and responsible for the livelihood of my staff – without instructions.  No pressure.

But There Are Books!

Yes, I hear you thinking – there are hundreds of thousands of parenting and business books.  Trust me, I’ve bought more than my share.  And I’m going to let you into a dirty little secret: You have to fully think through the ideas in those books BEFORE trying them out.

Fire. Ready. Aim.  Is NOT a Strategy

Patience is not my strongest virtue.  (I hear those of you who know me snickering.)  I admit I’ve read an idea and implemented it immediately without thinking through the repercussions.

With my daughter, my ‘Fire, Ready, Aim’ approaches were unmitigated failures.  (The words ‘sleep training’ still strike fear in my heart. I really should have finished the book. I missed a few highly critical pieces – like what NOT to do.)  The arrival of new parenting books from Amazon were met ‘Seriously? Now what?’ quips from my darling husband.

And, I see business leaders and owners do the same thing every day.  They read an article, hear something on the radio and try it out without much thought.  If it fails, they move onto the next idea – much to the disruption and annoyance of their staff.  Let’s not even talk about the impact of the ‘idea du jour’ on efficiency…

When lives and the livelihoods of others are dependent on us – shouldn’t we slow down and do our homework?

Before trying a new idea, sit down and think through a strategy.  Write down the answers to these questions:

Why am I considering this idea?

  • What problem am I trying to solve?
  • What impact will it have on various aspects/departments of your business?
  • What needs to be done to make the idea a reality?
  • Who should be involved in the planning process?
  • Will this idea have a chance of achieving the outcome I want?

Next, engage the needed people and resources.  Finally, document your plan.  Ideas floating around in your head are nothing more than brain chatter.  This plan will be the instruction book for your business.

While this approach takes a bit longer, it greatly improves the odds of staff buy-in, efficiency and success. Trust me when I say – your spouse, children and staff will thank you for it!

Most importantly, your business will reap the benefits of good and through planning.


Have you fallen victim to the “Idea du Jour” Phenomenon?  What did you do?

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