Director's Desk: A Metaphor For Now, A Metaphor For Life
Updated: Mar 18
Back in August, my MacBook broke. Well, the screen.
I'm really annoyed because this is the second time I’ve punctured the screen in the two years that I've had it. However, it turned out to be a really good lesson for me.
I shared this lesson with my online diary/ mailing list community, and now I want to share that very same lesson with you:
The screen broke on Friday, but I could still use it. The puncture was on the lower right side on the screen, so I still had about 80% of screen to use. So I used it right through the weekend (being more careful with it than ever before). Funnily enough I was actually submitting Musta’s annual accounts on Monday when the screen just went black.
I thought maybe it died at first, I’m notorious for not charging things till they’re on their last legs. So, I put it on charge. Nothing. I looked again and saw that my touchbar was still alight, yet nothing was showing on the screen. So, I decided to do a hard shut down and restarted it. Nothing. Then I thought it just needed a break. So I left it for 2 hours and worked from my iPad, as painfully slow as that was, and surprise, surprise...nothing. Well, the worst had finally happened. The computer was definitely working, but the screen had given up the ghost completely, despite there only being a very small puncture.
You see, that unfortunate tale of mine actually ended up being a metaphor, so here are they three things it taught me about strategy:
👉🏾 Bulletproof Vest
You know how the police and spies tend to wear bulletproof vests? (well, at least in all the films I’ve watched anyways). They do that for their protection, so if they do get shot at their torso (home to most their organs) is somewhat protected. Now, there’s one thing to be clear of here. Bulletproof vests don’t remove the threat of harm or death, but rather they just reduce it in certain circumstances. In other words, they form a temporary shield against danger or against things going wrong.
Do you now see why breaking my MacBook screen was such a careless mistake? Like I said, this is not the first time this has happened. I knew the danger of breaking it again existed, yet, I refused to get a screen protector. I looked it up on eBay earlier this week and a tough tempered gorilla one would cost me just £15.65 (with free P&P). My failure to buy a £15 product cost me £450 in repairs. If I had got the protector, then the risk of breakage would still very much be there, however, the risk would have been much reduced. The very same thing applies to strategy. You need to pre-empt as many issues as possible so that you can protect yourself should they arise. This takes some serious brain cells and a lot of time, but the more issues you’re aware of, the better you can plan more resilient strategies. Before you begin strategising, always remember to put on your bulletproof vest.
👉🏾 Lights, Camera, Action
So, what about once you’ve put together the strategy and it’s being carried out? Search for cracks. In my story yesterday, I shared about how I cracked the screen last Friday, but I still had about 80% of screen still fully functioning so I carried on using it until it fully gave up the ghost on Monday. This was a vital part of the metaphor. As you slowly begin to execute your strategy, things will begin to come up that your bulletproof vest can’t protect you from. These are things that you could never have possibly pre-empted i.e. CORONOVIRUS (Cardi B voice 👅). As a result of this you’ll start to see some serious cracks or flaws, if you will, that lie within your strategy. The worst thing you can do, and I really mean the worst thing you can do, is to ignore it.
That was probably my second biggest mistake. I observed a problem, but I chose to carry on anyways. My MacBook went black just as I was submitting account records (something super important). If I had acted faster, that surely would not have been the case. This is very important point to note actually because that just goes to show that the little cracks you see today grow to be the huge problems of tomorrow. That’s why it all depends on how you manage it. Think of your strategy as a sword you’re using to carve your way through to the epicentre of your jungle-like industry. Your sword needs to be sharp in order for your brand to be able to grow efficiently. So, what would you do if you notice that you’re not cutting through as well? You need to sharpen it! There’s nothing wrong with needing to go back to the drawing board. Heck, when I first launched withmusta.com I really thought I had everything all figured out with my services and so on. In fact being the chronic planner I am, I had all the operations planned out to a T. But then what happened? My services just weren’t working the way that I expected them to. So, I had to go back and fix the cracks that had emerged. I’m grateful I did because today I now have a much more stable and efficient brand. Catch the cracks early and fix them- save yourself a great deal of time and money.
👉🏾 Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater
Maybe you noticed or maybe you didn’t notice but I’ve been very clear to mention that it’s my MacBook screen that I’m having replaced (fingers crosses I’ll get it back tomorrow). The reason for this is because probably the most important part of strategy, is knowing when you need to amend it and when you need to completely start again. The whole don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater is just an old analogy for not throwing the good out with the bad. When it comes to your strategy, especially if like me you ignored the early warning signs (cracks), you have to be objectively conscious of what your next plan of action is going to be. My MacBook screen is broken, so I’m getting a replacement screen- I’m not throwing away the whole damn thing! My MacBook costs over 2K, so as you can see, the replacement is a fractional cost of the whole price tag. So in this case I have opted for a replacement. If it was the case that getting it fixed would cost around the same amount I bought it for or even more, then I would much rather put that money towards getting a completely new MacBook. You see, this is all about assessing your strategy to see if it needs to be thrown out or if just certain aspects need to be amended.
Prime example for you. When I first started out with talent management, I used to do packages. The cheapest was £49.99 and the most expensive was £149.99. I was pretty new to the scene and I didn’t have much of a clue of what I was doing so I figured packages were the way to go. I had this as my business model till January of this year (with a few price increments here and there). When I first rolled out the packages in November 2018, whilst I got a lot of interest, I quickly realised that the prices I had were not going to reap much financial reward, despite the long hours I was pouring into it. I knew that, but I convinced myself that everything would be fine and it’ll work itself out in due course. In other words, I ignored it. It wasn’t till November 2019, when things had now blown up in my face that I had to make the choice to revisit my business model strategy. By Jan 2020, the packages were gone and I had eased into a commission- based talent management service. As you can see, I didn’t just throw everything out, I focused in on the particular area that was going wrong. It’s important to get this clear. A lot of people just get frustrated and just throw in the towel, when if they just focused in on the area where their strategy seriously sucks, they’d do a whole lot better.
So you see, that puncture was probably one of the very best things that could have ever happened to me.
I'm bringing this message again at this time of year because it's so easy to begin to slow down, unwind, or worse still, fail to plan properly for the year ahead. But if you want to achieve different, much better, results, then you need to observe what you do more objectively. Find the gaps, then plug the gaps.
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Don't say you weren't warned.
Speak soon, BB🔆