15 Sep Doing the Detail Work

Last week’s blog talked about the reasons for my need to work from home, in order to focus on the plan that will carry Qualifirst into the next decade of its life. This post is a follow-on from this, factoring in some exciting developments that happened in the intervening few days.

Recently we hosted a “foodie day” at our Toronto office. These are always enjoyable events, and they provide an opportunity for our team members to ask questions. The next day, a Friday, I headed off to Boston to see Tom Koulopoulos for an 8-hour all day meeting.

Learning from an Expert

Tom Koulopoulos is the author of 10 books and founder of the Delphi Group, a 25-year-old Boston-based think tank and a past Inc. 500 company that focuses on innovation and the future of business. Meeting with him was part of my ongoing mission to acquire knowledge and get support from leading experts in various fields.

After about two hours of discussion, Tom stated that at first he could not understand why I was spending so much time on technology and applying this to our sales strategy. After going over the details with me he realized that in fact, that was exactly where I should be concentrating my efforts, and that this needed to be properly communicated to the team. He admitted that while this approach was right for me, it is not the usual role a company president takes on.

At Qualifirst, we have the IT resources we need, and we have the big picture plan. The only thing missing is the detailed plan that can then be executed by our excellent team members working in the office and offsite.

Tom works with venture capital firms and tech start-ups as part of his consulting business. He recognizes that what Qualifirst is in fact doing is reinventing itself. Our new strategy is very much like that of a food tech start-up. If we were a start-up, we would have to develop a plan solid enough to qualify for funding from venture capitalists. We don’t need to do this, since we are well capitalized, but it is still a very good idea to have a solid plan and to have it validated by outside experts.

Getting back to Work

My problem is that I can be easily distracted. Not by the team, but by the office environment. I can’t line up long hours of uninterrupted time to really think a problem through.

While working in the office these past few months, very little on my ToDo list was getting done. I was just answering emails and reacting. I was not getting to the long-term deep thinking work needed to help us grow and thrive – not just for the next year or two but the next 10 years. It simply was not getting done.

During the first eight weeks that I spent at home, I completely eliminated a ToDo list that had accumulated over one year. This allowed the follow-up ToDo list to itemize activities that I can achieve within the next two months, rather than the next two years.

Our blueprint needs a tremendous amount of planning and scoping out of details. I am the only one who can do this next step, and it needs to be done quickly so that our IT and marketing teams can begin to implement promptly.

It was very encouraging to hear an expert of the stature of Tom Koulopoulos confirm that my instincts and efforts are correct, and as always I owe a great deal of thanks to the entire Qualifirst team for their help in building and implementing the plan.