Knowing & Doing Aren’t the Same

For the last two decades I’ve worked around the country with companies, organizations and communities, seeing all forms of strategic planning in many phases of its development and implementation.  I’ve also seen strategic plans get more and more complex and take longer and longer to create.

The length and complexity of these plans stems from a desire to want more information to guide strategic decisions as well as to want to analyze information better and more thoroughly than your competition (a subjective assumption).

Yet as more information is available and analyzed, far too many of these strategic plans appear (and are) lifeless, impractical and wasted.  But why?

Knowing & Doing Aren’t the Same

As a dad of three I’m often reminding my kids to do things, which means I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I know” to which I’ve quipped “Knowing and doing are two different things.”

Before I even finish there is a part of me that winces at having said such a ‘dad-like-thing’ but the truth is my response is less a reflection of being a dad and more a reflection of being a consultant in today’s world.  Like my kids, most people fundamentally know what to do, but they are often distracted from taking action either by the immediacy of something else that’s grabbed their attention or they are waiting for more information.

Albert Einstein is attributed to having said, “Information is not knowledge.”

And this problem is only getting worse as the daily bombardment of information through every device and from every screen raises our expectation that a little more information won’t hurt and will actually make it easier to take action.  It’s an assumption that the next piece of information may be so much better than what we have, we must wait.

Thus this access to so much information that is so frequently refreshing (updating, revising) is now treated as a source of knowledge, creating an illusion that with knowledge of the next piece of information we can somehow take more decisive and successful action.

Knowledge is More than Information

Unfortunately knowledge is more than mere abundance and availability of information.  Knowledge involves experience (good and bad), ranking (how we measure and weigh information), instincts/intuition, imagination and other processes that are functions of taking action (a/k/a doing).  Thus, the result of seeking more and more information because it is (or may be) available too often leads to the same problem of inaction that plagues my kids – distraction and postponement.

This is not to say that data and information can’t be valuable to a decision, but the expectation that more data and information will always lead to an even better decision has a limit.

3 Tips for Action

Here are three tips to encourage action:

  1. Do limit the analysis of data and information to that which is most relevant to your goals and objectives.  Don’t rely on data that is too historic or unverifiable.
  2. Create a plan that guides your strategic decisions and actions for the next 3-5 years.  Don’t create a plan for purposes of creating a plan.
  3. Assume that your plan will need to be adjusted as new information is available or markets change.  Don’t fall into the trap of creating an entirely new plan every time something changes.

 

First Ever #EconDev Survey of Micropolitans

Our company believes that micropolitans have tremendous growth opportunities ahead, which is why we’ve focused our economic development services on their needs.

And that why we’re also doing the first ever economic development (#econdev) survey just for the nation’s 551 micropolitans (list of micropolitans).

The benefit to participating micropolitans is two-fold:

  1. You’ll get a report with aggregate survey results, which can help you better benchmark your community against your peers in future strategic planning.
  2. You have the ability to submit available buildings and sites to us through the survey.  That information will be kept on file and when we’re working with our private sector clients your micropolitan will get considered if it meets the project parameters.

What Do You See?

Looking at this picture, what do you see?

You may see a typical suburb.  Or a small town in flyover country.  Both answers would be correct!

However, when we look at the picture we see:

  1. The commuting patterns that are impacted by zoning decisions
  2. The small business that is trying to get a building permit to expand
  3. The school board that is wrestling with rising student populations and the need to adjust enrollment boundaries
  4. The developer that’s facing an angry neighborhood because her project is locating where the city’s decades old comprehensive plan says it should be built
  5. The need for a balance between housing and jobs, as well as housing diversity and affordability
  6. A city that is struggling with the cost of services and the need to grow and diversify it’s economy
  7. The importance of primary sector jobs, as well as sales tax generating commercial/retail business

Why do we see all that?

We’re experts at understanding the importance of economic development and the complexity of land use.

That’s why we’re able to help the public and private sectors solve their challenges and capitalize on their opportunities.

Learn more 

How We Helped This Business (and Could Help Yours)

Sometimes we are the last chance to save a business from drowning in regulations.

We recently helped a small business, The Grayson, resolve a zoning compliance matter that threatened to shut them down because their c0-housing solution to long term rentals for corporate relocation clients was defined as a “hotel” despite the fact it’s a far cry from a hotel.

Since it would be incredibly difficult to walk through the intricate challenges of their situation in a single blog post, we will try to simplify it.

The Grayson was an AirBNB style co-housing rental that the owners live in.  Unfortunately, such uses (businesses) aren’t defined in the County’s code.  When a use is not defined, it’s not allowed except that the County can interpret what use it most closely resembles.

In this case, their undefined use was found to be most closely like that of a “hotels” and hotels are not allowed in the zone where our client is located.

To solve the problem, we tenaciously pursued a code interpretation that argued our client was operating a boarding house.  And upon securing that code interpretation we helped bring the client into compliance with those regulations, saving the business.

Our client was willing to let us share her thoughts on our work. . .

“Toyer’s firm has a great background and working knowledge of regulations, zoning, and code. Toyer was able to navigate the complexity of county planning department and code, succeeding in getting a resolution that kept our business from having to close. More incredible was the fact that Toyer was successful where attorneys had failed to help us with the problem.  Without Toyer Strategic’s involvement, we would have spent thousands of dollars fighting a losing battle!”  Mariam Zinn, Owner, The Grayson

We’re proud of the work our company does and what it means to small business and entrepreneurs.

Got a zoning or zoning compliance issue?  We can help. Contact us

Founder’s Focus: Oh, That’s What This Is?

Growing the business one bass at a time.

Advice, particularly for business owners and entrepreneurs is everywhere . . . as I scroll through LinkedIn, advice is coming from the influencers I follow and my connections; it graces the covers of books in the airport bookstore; and I even get daily text messages and emails.

Advice is good, but I’m not always sure what to do with it.

That’s how I’ve come to believe that advice and action may be relatively near each other in the dictionary, but they are separated by interpretation (Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as a particular adaption or version).

Too often the advice is missing “the how” behind my using (or not using) it in my daily practice?  In other words, the advice fails to answer a key question that can be asked a couple different ways:  How do I adapt it to work for me?  What’s the version of this I can use?

Let’s talk about a specific example I’m familiar with.  One thing that shows up in pieces of advice like “7 things successful entrepreneurs do. . .” is the notion of a quiet time or a “pause” for entrepreneurs.  Sometimes it’s referred to as meditation, but it also can be called recovery, reflection, centering, getting present, or even mindfulness (a new buzz word).

Regardless of what it’s called, the advice is the same: entrepreneurs are supposed to take “time” to be successful because that’s when the great things can be allowed to manifest.

I’m the first to admit I can be a skeptic of things like yoga, meditation, etc.  And anytime I’m faced with the notion of a pause, unfortunately all I can envision is meditation.  Thinking of me sitting crisscross applesauce on the floor of a quiet in a room by myself with no interruptions and distractions is a bit scary.  Because I’ve got three active kids, a brutal travel schedule, an internal clock no longer attached to a time zone, very few precious minutes of downtime, and some body image issues.  And since I’m getting real honest here, I’m going to even admit that I bought a book about 10 years ago called “8 Minute Meditation” and I never gave it 3 minutes of my time.

Because ‘meditation’ seems impossible and it appears that all the successful entrepreneurs are doing it, I can’t help but feel the fear of missing out (FOMO), question my motivation, and ponder whether my reluctance is holding my business back.

So how am I still here after all these years?  I finally found the answer. . . and it wasn’t what I thought it was.

I found out that I’ve been doing what other successful entrepreneurs do, but I didn’t know I was doing it.  I actually do pause to meditate, reflect, refresh, etc.

And it came to me in a total “Oh, That’s what this is?” moment.

Here’s how I figured it out.

I was sitting on a plane and listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Gary Vee) and out of nowhere it came to me that in coming through recent struggles with growing my business, I’d been fishing.  Not fishing for business, but literally casting a line fishing.

Nearly every free night and weekend day for a month my youngest and I were on the lake and I was staying far longer than normal (and not at my son’s urging).

A catch of the day. . . not long before I caught the catch of my life.

This was immediately followed by reminiscing about when I decided to start my business back in 3rd quarter of 2007 after a week on a river fishing for pink salmon . . . and when my now wife gave me the ultimatum – commit or quit – which led to two weeks on a river from which I returned with a grand (and successful!) plan.  You get the point.

I had finally discovered that when I’m out there (lake, river, pond, ocean, etc.), it’s quiet.  Not just quiet on the water, but actually quiet (relatively) in my head.

Fishing isn’t just some hobby I can list in my profile, nor an activity I do with my kids because my dad did it with me.

Fishing is “that” time for me.

So the good news is I’ve been meditating, pausing, reflection, etc. all along.  I just failed to interpret what I was doing as being my version of what other successful entrepreneurs are doing.

Note: this blog is the second in a series of blogs I’m writing on various topics that aren’t related to our company’s core services, but definitely relate to how we cope with the same challenges that our clients and colleagues often face as small businesses and entrepreneurs.