Are you able to make decisions stick? You make a choice today and then your behavior is consistent with it across months and years?

People who know me view me as highly disciplined, but I struggle with this as much as anyone.

As a simple example, last year I started managing my Rotary club’s service events. One of the first things I did was to create a SOP to capture the ideal method schedule events. Recently, I realized I haven’t followed that SOP for the last three events. It wasn’t an intentional lapse- I’ve just been busy and didn’t notice that I had drifted off course.

When a decision is recent, it’s not that hard to stay on top of it, but as time passes it’s easy to lose track of it.

As it relates to growth, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about consistency as the core operational obstacle that can limit growth ( One manifestation of this is a lack of systematic execution in creating value. Like with my Rotary example, there are two main phases to implementing systems improvements to a business:

  • Creating the system
  • Consistently executing the system

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just commit to executing a system. “We’re doing it this way from now on,” doesn’t work. Eventually, entropy will prevail and pick apart what you planned.

A solution to this challenge is to implement scaffolding. By scaffolding I mean supporting resources, measures, and tools that help keep your good intentions on track even when you’re in a chaos tornado.

There are all sorts of scaffolding, but to give a simple example:

As part of our marketing I’m speaking at conferences. New opportunities to speak emerge every couple of months. To ensure I’m capturing those opportunities and not getting caught up in the busyness of life, I have a calendar reminder for every two months on a Monday. The reminder links to a spreadsheet where I track where I’ve submitted a proposal and when the last time I checked an organization’s website for new opportunities was.

There are lots of other mechanisms to implement scaffolding around a system. What they all have in common is that they just happen. In other words, they bring the system to your attention without you having to remember to use it.

Featured image is The Waters of Lethe by the Plains of Elysium. Used under CC BY-NC-ND . Lethe was the river in Hades that the recently dead would drink from to forget their past lives.