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Could you execute these Goals?

by | Jan 9, 2021 | execute, Goals, Styx

Goals are simply statements… until they are executed, measured, and then revised.  If you follow the state of the art in project management, that cycle has gotten shorter and shorter, to the point that now Agile Sprints are measured in weeks.  The dirty secret behind that – most people don’t know what they want.  And the quicker you can execute what they said they want, the quicker they can say “that is not what I meant…” and try again.  There is also the concept of the MVP – and not the sports metaphor – Minimum Viable Product.  Get something that mostly works and get it out into the market for feedback.  Which was what we slowly were doing…

.. from the Customer Forums, we would produce a Roadmap with deliverables that came in pieces.  Small releases – we got better at delivering each quarter, with larger releases every 2 or 3 quarters.  Big functions were put out a year or so, but slowly pulled in as we continued to churn away against the Goals.  Customers slowly got more confidence, and the group that we really had to rebuild trust with was the Consulting Services group.  They were always on the front lines of putting the release into ACTUAL use… and providing us with real-time ‘feedback’ which was slowly becoming more PG friendly…  

The last two members of Styx are the Panozzo brothers, John and Chuck.  Fraternal twins, they also grew up in the working-class Roseland area of Chicago, and were the other 2 founding members of the group with Dennis.  John took an interest in drums at 7, Chuck picking up the guitar, and they started playing weddings and shows around Chicago at 12 for $15 each per gig.  Chuck moved to bass, and having twin brothers anchor the “pocket” provides an amazing platform for Styx music.  They eventually made it to the South Side, where they met JY and John C, and started the journey you now know, up and out into the huge stadiums and concert halls.  The video for today is from their 1978 tour and you see the energy of the band that fans experienced, with great shots of them.

Pieces of Eight was their 8th album, released in September of 1978, and like The Grand Illusion, it would go on to be Triple Platinum.  Dennis suggested they continue the idea of a “concept” album touched on lightly before, with the specific focus on “not giving up your dreams for the pursuit of money and material possessions”.  By this point, Tommy was writing some of the biggest hits, including Renegade and today’s track.  It started from hearing his motorboat engine not starting… and that rhythm he thought would make a great guitar riff.  It went to number 21 on the charts, and is still a centerpiece of their shows on tour…

… and an anthem to many of the people that we count on for the Goals and plans that we think are so well thought through, who now has to execute them.  In great bands, drummers make sure the band is in time and the bass provides the linkage to the music… and then on top of that is where all of the stuff you “see” actually happens.  Look in the back you will see them typically – not featured, but critical to delivery.  I was at a concert once where the band was not only completely out of key, they were out of time…  And I had to go sit in the car with the stereo blaring because it was so disturbing.  Ask musicians what matters most – the pocket.  And as a bass player, I take that responsibility very seriously… keep the beat, keep us together, keep us moving… 

… we were slowly rebuilding the pocket of our own delivery.  We accelerated getting new releases into the hands of the Consulting group for their usage, and that slowly shortened our overall testing cycle.  As we rebuilt their confidence, they began to engage with the leading edge Customers who appreciated the “early access” and gave us invaluable insights on what they were now seeing they needed… different Goals than we thought, and even different than what they had thought in forums.  The conversations also became less confrontational and much more conversational, and if you want to leverage the music metaphor, we started to see harmonies we couldn’t have guessed about until we were executing… improvising…  

… my current project is winding down, with most of the work done by people that have to deal with the actual issues.  How do you get rid of cardboard from 50 large displays? How do you get things shipped during the Christmas rush?  Where do you get a lift to reach the WiFi access points in the ceiling?  How do you get food for the team in the time of Covid?  And, while many miss the beauty of the work they are doing, I see it.  Adapting what we thought would work .. now executing closer to what actually works.  And like a band, there are people that provide the pocket… constant focus on what is… and then where do we now go. 

As you are thinking about Goals for this year, what is your own stance on trying things out quicker?  I found that yearly resolutions fail… but monthly Goals… that increment is attainable. By the end of January, I hope to have clarity on how to expand this platform for audio.  Then in February, I can build towards that, and by March have a podcast version to try out.  And get your feedback more frequently… not huge, but the increments are small enough to try out and correct. How are you approaching the Goals for your own execution?  My suggestion – start small… try something… what is your own MVP… and think about those actually executing them… The Blue-Collar Man.

Give me a job, give me security
Give me a chance to survive
I’m just a poor soul in the unemployment line
My God I’m hardly alive

My mother and father, my wife and my friends
You’ve seen them laugh in my face
But I’ve got the power and I’ve got the will
I’m not a charity case

I’ll take those (long nights, impossible odds)
Keeping my eye to the keyhole
If it takes (all that to be just what I am)
Well I’m gonna be a blue collar man

Make me an offer that I can’t refuse
Make me a respectable man
This is my last time in the unemployment line
So like it or not

I’ll take those (long nights, impossible odds)
Keeping my back to the wall
If it takes (all night to be just what I am)
Well I’m gonna be a blue collar man

Keeping my mind on a better life
Where happiness is only a heartbeat away
Paradise can it be all I heard it was
I close my eyes and maybe I’m already there

I’ll take those (long nights, impossible odds)
Keeping my back to the wall
(All that to be just what I am)
Well I’m gonna be a blue collar man

You don’t understand
I’ll take those (long nights, impossible odds)
Keeping my eye to the keyhole
If it takes (all night to be just what I am)
Well I’m bound be a blue collar
Gotta be a blue collar man
Gonna be a blue collar man

Believe it!

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