"Forward” as a Guiding Principle for Business..and a Great Motto, too!

I started up my tablet this morning and was greeted by “Lenovo – For Those Who Work” on the splash screen. Ok, not a bad motto, but on my tablet, which I use to watch many Netflix videos, it seemed a bit contrived and restricting.

Nike’s “Just Do It” seems to be a near-perfect motto or slogan for Nike’s products. It’s just three words; it’s a command; “It” can be anything to anybody, and together the three words are a great call to action and focus on the significant impediment to change—all thought and no action. “Eat Fresh,” Subway’s slogan is equally good.

I grew up in Wisconsin, where the state motto is “Forward.” I’ve always liked it for many reasons. It’s progressive and future-focused. At the same time, it gives direction and opposes “backward,” which most would agree is a horrible way of being or looking at government or life.

I would probably go with “Business Forward” as our motto for Kona Impact. We don’t make a lot of consumer sales, and we hope that our products and services propel businesses into a better future. Not terribly unique, I’m sure, but it does capture the essence of what we try to do: move businesses forward, to the future.

A few years ago we had a client in a particularly combative mood. She struggled to get a part of her business going, and she thought we were to blame. She called and immediately started saying we had referred her to the wrong provider for what she needed—the final piece of the puzzle we needed to complete the project. It was one of those hold-the-phone-away-from-your-ears-while-someone-rants calls. It was very uncomfortable for me, but that’s all part of business and project management. I’ve been working in design and publishing for 25 years, so I have pretty thick skin.

At Kona Impact, we knew the solution to her problem and were powerless to get the final piece for her. She had to call the provider, which is something we told her numerous times. There was nothing we could do, and we communicated this weeks prior. The key to moving forward was entirely up to her.

At that time, her focus was purely on looking backward. She wanted to rant, and we were her (misplaced) target. I really wanted to interrupt and say, “This is the way forward. Do this, and you’ll be done.” I also wanted to add, “Your rant is not constructive and is not based on the truth.” Fortunately, I bit my tongue and didn’t say the second thought! I listened, explained the way forward, and tried valiantly to end the conversation. I estimate that in the ten minutes, she spent complaining to us, she could have had her issue solved if she called the 3rd party provider.

moving forward

I think looking backward is an inherently faulty way to run a business. For certain, learning from mistakes and successes is important, but moving forward is the only direction to take. Get caught up in what was, and you’ll never focus on the most important: what will be!

The next time you’re ready to start the blame game, ask yourself what outcome you anticipate. Will you move your business forward, or do you just want someone to listen to your frustrations? If you want to rant, reconsider, and focus on the more positive and future-focused outcome.

 Kona Impact | 808-329-6077