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Why be deliberate?

Experienced business travelers are masters of traveling light - deliberately packing only what they need to get to and execute the meeting and little else - so they can get into and out of airports quickly. Using a packing list helps... not just because it prevents forgetting critical items, it also helps avoid adding items that are not needed for this trip.

Carry on luggage
Packling List Example

Being deliberate in packing is important... for that trip. But what about your business? Can you attain your goals on time if you miss critical items or spend time on things that don't actually support your goals? Let's explore why it is so important to be deliberate in your decisions, actions and messaging.

First, let’s start with the definition for 'deliberate':


1. carefully weighed or considered; studied; intentional.

Most of us understand it is important - and actually believe we usually do - think things through and develop plans. So let me take this a step further:

I believe 'deliberate' means intentionally including what is critical to meet a specific goal and excluding anything that isn't critical.

It’s that second part (excluding anything that isn't critical) that tends to slow down or derail many organizational efforts. All too often human beings allow “other stuff” to sneak in and steal time, resources, and attention from what is needed. This delivers crappy results that come in many forms including: critical elements of success are not identified, no sense of urgency is created, or the team gets stuck in an endless cycle of discussion (tragically mislabeled as ‘collaboration’).

Sometimes organizations try to build a plan or strategy after the fact… by reviewing all the “stuff” already done and figuring out how to stitch it all together into an emergent strategy. This can work but the focus on “what was” rather than “what should be” results in incremental improvement at best and lost years/revenue/relevance at worst.

Or let's apply this to presentations / corporate messages. How many presentations have you attended that are full of "other stuff" that did nothing for you as the audience? "Stuff" like:

  • Opening with a heavy, long descriptions of your business and challenges - things you already know all too well - to show the presenter did some research

  • That 'logo slide' that shows the presenter has worked with a gazillion other clients in some way, shape or form at some murky point in the past with no specific results

  • Endless bullet points

Unfortunately, most presentations I see "in the wild" are full of "stuff". It is a symptom of emergent message strategy - not a deliberate message intended to persuade. If you don't see this as a problem, ask yourself:

How much do you remember of the last 50 presentations you sat through?

How many actually moved you to act or changed your mind?

If you want to be exceptional, develop a strong goal, focus on the core and exclude distractions – or at least wait to address them where and when they are needed. In other words, be deliberate.

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