You are a change maker. Hard work, persistence, and passion have helped you bring your idea to early life. Resourcefulness has enabled you to get insights about problems worth solving, cycle through prototypes, and rough out a business model. You’ve tapped into as many extra hours as you have been able to find in your days and nights. You have called in favors from friends, prevailed upon family members, and inspired colleagues.
The green-light moment happens when you see the signals that the market wants what you have innovated. Investors are ready to fund your next moves.
The green-light moment is the time to regroup as your role changes from doer of everything or most things, to doer of many things, as well as leader, coach, and orchestra conductor of a larger, more complex eﬀort.
First, take time to celebrate the achievement. Congratulate the people who have helped you to get here.
Second, recognize that your role continues to be a source of inspiration, builder of alliances, and obstacle eliminator. Not everyone is going to love what you are doing. Not everyone will automatically see the open space you see so readily.
Third, stay focused on your purpose. It is your beacon.
The green-light moment is a time to pay attention to three priorities in particular:
Without the right moves on people—attracting, selecting, and motivating talent who can deliver in the right roles within your culture—nothing else matters.
Without a strategy—a documented articulation of where you are heading, how you envision getting there, and why—the best talent will be compromised. Strategy is the basis for execution.
Implementing in line with vision and purpose means being ready to deal with whatever surprises occur along the way. Execution is rarely, if ever, linear.
Demonstrate every day that you are running relentlessly toward success to attract and win the right people over to your cause. Show your commitment to taking the team along with you. Reinforce you are serious with tangible proof through your behavior and communications – through how you treat everyone upon whom you are dependent, and beyond, in your network.
The Candidate Assessment Question
“Tell me about a time when …” is the question that will get to relevant and authentic examples of how and whether a candidate has demonstrated a sought-after skill. Example: “Tell me about a time when you worked through conflicting or ambiguous data to make a decision.” Or, “Tell me about a time when you implemented an unexpected change in direction with no time to spare.” Probe: “And then what did you do?” “What did you say next?” “How did you feel?” “How did others respond?” Dig until you can envision what actually happened.
Strategy is where execution begins. Done right, strategy encompasses not only conceptual logic and analyses, but also how execution will happen. A well-documented strategy answers four questions:
- The starting point: Where are you now?
- The destination: Where do you want to be?
- The route: How do you anticipate getting there?
- The rationale: Why does any of this matter?
An actionable strategy lays out the stepping-stones between insights, purpose, and execution. For the many decisions that cannot be predetermined, strategy empowers the change maker and their team to operate with a shared view of the destination and the guideposts to get there.
Strategy and planning drive:
- How or whether the vision is achieved
- The ability to surface issues proactively, and adapt to the unexpected
- Focus on priorities, while setting aside what may be interesting but distracting
- Communications and alignment
- Every change maker faces unforgiving pressure to move faster. Weeks are compressed into days, months into weeks, and years into months. The constant demand is to get the product or service out and show results.
Time compression creates energy and forces progress, but without strategy and planning, speedy execution alone generates chaos.
What makes the difference when delivery is jeopardized by the unexpected? Change makers are “Plan B” people – they know that things rarely go according to plan, and they are able to pull out or quickly come up with back pocket options. They expect surprise and serendipity to be the routine, so are not unglued when either happen.
Do you enjoy execution, and are you good at it?
Remember to assess your own competencies as you move ahead on people decisions. What role will you play? This is a good time to be clear on where and how you can contribute the most, and where you should stay out of the way. Maybe you are the kind of person who wants to come up with a concept and keep everyone focused on the end game, but have someone else sweat the details. Or is the purpose powering the venture so personal that you are not comfortable with anyone else assuming the lead role?
Convey what’s in it for each member of the team
Your purpose is amazing – at least to you. What are you doing to ensure your team sees what’s in it for them?
The change maker may know where they are heading. They also have to make sure everyone else sees the path and end game, by enabling two-way communications – ongoing, transparent, and constructive. Nothing will make it much past the green light without communications that are two-way, ongoing, transparent, and constructive.
Committing the strategy to writing will test and improve thought clarity. Use conversations about the strategy to push issues to the surface, build buy-in, take advantage of everyone’s experience, and align resources with priorities. If you have been working (at least for now) largely as a soloist, don’t settle for having it all inside your head. You will help yourself by writing down the strategy—all four elements—and evolving the path with team members, mentors, and advisers.
Being heard is a profound human need. So is providing context— why is the issue of the day a priority, not just what needs to get done today. It’s unlikely that the people you must convince and engage are mind readers. Keep everyone in the game by communicating proactively, frequently, repeatedly, and in the channels and formats that work for them