Do what you say

A twitter fortune cookie statement I’ve seen a few times lately says something like “actually doing what you say you’ll do puts you ahead of 90% of the competition”.

This is something I’ve come to appreciate more and more. The ability to consider different alternatives, prioritizing what is most important (and in that process, deselecting a bunch of less important stuff), clearly articulating what “done” is and then actually doing it, is surprisingly rare.

Obviously, this is not a binary ability. Very few are able to do everything they plan to, but from my experience there are different “tiers”, and I’d always strive to place myself in the top one. Even more important, it is completely fine to change plans and prioritize to do something else than what was first communicated. Facts change, and when they do it’s often a very good idea to change the what you’ll do. But: there is a big difference between communicating this and not. If you want to be amongst those who “do what they say”, you have to communicate when priorities change.

I see this with a lot of companies that end up failing (exceptions apply!): they start out committing to sending regular investor updates, but after a few months of emails they stop without ever communicating why. I tend to think it’s symptomatic of a bigger issue: the company is no longer “doing what they say”. And then it’s suddenly much more difficult to win.