How To Predict the Future!
I have cracked the code.
After generations of humans have pondered, fixated, and faked prognostication, I have figured it out!
It came to me while I was hanging a clock in the bathroom. Wait, that’s time travel. Prediction of the future came to me another way.
But before I get to the how of predicting the future, it is important to understand the why. At least my why. It is no secret that DBI is growing. We have great clients, outstanding candidates and a team driven to do their best and have fun along the way.
So why do I even have a why?
The current DBI situation is more than some firms ever achieve. Don’t change a thing! Except…I owe it to the great clients, candidates, and employees to keep DBI around so they can do their best and have fun working here. Growth and longevity are my why.
So, with 2020 in mind I started to plan. I calculated current revenue, created beautiful models that helped me to predict future revenue, establish profit margins, manage expenses and I created a hiring strategy. After a month or so I had it. I had predicted the future! Clear as a sunny Seattle day, I could see 2020 and it was fantastic! Happy employees connecting with outstanding candidates, servicing global clients, all while having fun and maintaining a very good profit margin. I had done it! I had predicted the future.
Until I hadn’t.
A Plan Meets Reality
I created my 2020 plan in 2013 and in Q1 of 2014, I launched it. I hired talent, eager to make their mark. We had a good blend of established, large clients and new clients. A list that was growing each week. Our outreach to candidates was second to none and our database had swelled to over 20,000 connections. We were on our way.
Then I noticed something.
It was the start of Q2 and revenue was stagnating. Time to fill, a key measurement in recruiting (the time between opening a role and placing a candidate) started to stretch from a month, to two, to three. What was going on? I had a plan, I had taken steps to ensure the plan was moving forward. What had I missed?
As the year went on, there was more stress on the firm. The employees were still struggling and I had to make real decisions regarding their viability. In the end, I had to let most of them go. So I cleaned house. I let the underperforming people go and doubled down on the talent that was doing well. But there was still 2020. My goals had not changed just because my situation had. I was terrified! What about 2020? What about my plans? Was this failure?
Back to the Drawing Board
So, again, I sat down. But this time I didn’t plan for revenue, profit margins and statistics. My planning was around the kind of talent that would help the firm reach our 2020 goals. I thought about my own skill set and the skills of the employees that were doing well. I thought about how they were motivated. Then I did more than think about it.
I asked them!
We talked through how they approach their work and what aspects they find most rewarding. I asked them why there were here at DBI and why they wanted to stay. Making them part of the process, I worked to define that best personality for the work we do and the goals we have.
From there, I started to build a process that would enhance what motivated the DBI employees. The 2020 goals remained the same, the path had just changed. I thought about reward both in a monetary way and a more personal way. Money is great but how were employees finding motivation and satisfaction in the job day to day? Once I knew, I worked to make these activities part of the core of the firm. I set expectations for each role. I created rewards beyond pay. I thought about how to help each employee feel totally invested in DBI and what we are trying to accomplish. I was creating a culture.
And this is where I started to understand my real ‘how’. My first peek into predicting the future. Predicting the future is more than planning. It is about understanding the environment your plan takes place in. A plan is a plan is a plan. It cannot succeed on its own. To predict the future an owner, a manager, anyone must create a culture in which all team members have buy-in and a genuine interest in the reaching and exceeding the established goal.
I could now predict the future! It does require a plan. It is very important to know where you are going, where you want to be. But the plan is not the future, it is just a vision of what you hope the future will be. To best predict the future you need to understand the environment that plan lives in. You need to understand your culture. It is culture that best predicts the future.
Behind the Curtain
I want to wrap up the post by sharing what may be obvious. This has been a hard post to write. I have struggled as an owner and for anyone who knows me, I focus on the positive. But, as an entrepreneur of a growing firm, I think it is important to share my challenges and failures to give context to my learning and growth.
So in that spirit I will be writing about how I established, and continue to establish, my firm’s culture. Now that you have context for why I feel creating culture is the most important job of an owner I will share the steps I have taken to create the DBI culture. There is a lot more to come and I cannot wait to share it with you.