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Are you mistaking motion for progress? How do you know if your business is moving forward?  What benchmarks have you set in place to ensure your work is reaching its end goal rather than moving in circles?  Today’s entrepreneurs and start-ups can easily become snared into the deadly cycle of busyness.  Before you know it, another quarter has passed and all you have to show for it are meetings, phone calls, networking – aka…no results.  This was the crux of the TechStars’ presentation Tuesday: “Turning Motion Into Progress.” TechStars is passionately focused on helping start-ups establish healthy habits in order to build strong organizations which will allow them to move faster.  

“Celebrate not that you got it done but that your customer got value from it.”

Zach DiUbaldo, who oversees TechStars’ Sustainability Program, started with an interesting example from his favorite childhood show, “Myth Busters.”  He spoke of an episode where one of the hosts set out to swim from one point to another, believing all he had to do was swim in a straight line to achieve his goal. However, it didn’t happen that way. Instead of going in a straight line, he ended up corkscrewing and contrary to his perception that he was progressing, he was actually going in circles, never reaching his destination. What happened? Turns out he was right-handed and had a weaker left arm, which was a huge deterrent to his reaching the other side. He didn’t perceive any innate weaknesses and assumed victory would be eminent. This scenario mimics the burgeoning start-up that is blind to internal weaknesses, misinterpreting great splashes in the water for progress but not realizing that all they’re doing is making a lot of motion and getting nowhere.

So how does a business achieve motion that moves them ahead and not just in circles? TechStars suggests a few things:

    • First focus on finishing things, not starting things.  
    • Celebrate not that you got it done, but that your customer got value from it.  
    • Progress should be defined as customer value first, then improving the effectiveness of the organization and lastly, navigating its system, processes and people.
    • Build progress with goal setting and cadence by doing the following:
      • Establish expected business results 
      • Set monthly goals
      • Have a weekly focus
      • Committing to getting the work done with a daily action

And this was just the tip of the iceberg!   

I am a voice actor and I expected this presentation to be like going a different county. I wouldn’t know the language or the culture but just nod and smile. However, I realized TechStars’ methodology was relevant to anyone who aspired to progress in their business, as long as they were willing to think a bit differently from their usual norm.