Archie, one of our sons, is fastidious about ‘best before’ dates on food items. It drives my wife to distraction that he refuses to consume anything that is even one minute beyond the date on the package. As someone who has moved house with Corn Flakes that are five years beyond the ‘best before’ date, she has a slightly different interpretation of what ‘best before’ actually means.

For most people, though, dates change behaviour.

Earlier this week, for example, I ran a strategy workshop. The executive team were agreeing their priorities for action, but the list kept getting longer as they struggled to make clear choices.

It was only when I asked them to define the delivery date of their chosen ‘priorities’ that they were able to commit to a shorter list of critical actions. The realization that they would have to deliver on a specific date allowed them to determine what was really important and what was simply ‘nice-to-have’.

A goal without a date attached is just a wish. It might give you a slightly warm feeling inside, but it will not generate the adrenalin required for you to actually do something. A goal only becomes real and only drives committed, focused action when it is date-stamped.

What date-stamps do need to attach to your goals to drive action and accelerate delivery?

I’m now away for the next two weeks, so will see you again in September. Hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer.

Off The Record: Disco 2000 by Pulp

And I said, “Let’s meet up in the year 2000

Won’t it be strange when we’re all fully grown?

Be there two o’clock by the fountain down the road.”

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Business leaders are constantly exhorted to innovate. But what kind of innovation should managers pursue? The Innovation Strategy Matrix helps you to answer that question and get your innovation strategy right.