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Old Handgun Pistol

The Magnum Test: Will Your Business Survive Beyond You?

While driving to work, you realize you're almost out of gas. You pull over to the next station to fuel up. While filling up your tank, you notice someone mugging a poor lady and her children in the car next to yours. You're the only one who sees this man holding a large magnum gun at the lady.

Quickly, you tackle him smashing him into the wall and knocking him out. His gun drops from his hand and BANG! It fires upon crashing to the ground. You look down at your stomach and your bleeding profusely. Sirens and lights dance around you as you and your vision fades to darkness.

And now, You (the business owner) is dead.
Your company must continue to deliver for the clients, and provide for you and your team's families. How well do they succeed without you? How much direction, systems, and a structure was in your head instead of documented and culturally ingrained? 
To get to my point in a less morbid way, does your company continue flourishing when you're no longer around? What about if a key employee leaves? What about all the people reliant on the success of this business? Their families?
If you can't answer these questions with confidence, you're likely lacking a solid business blueprint and architect. But the good news is you can steer away by operating in a way that will prevent these scenarios from happening in the first place. 

When it comes to long-term sustainable success there are two critical ingredients of every successful business. You need an architect and a blueprint. But, having these two pieces is only the first step. The more important one is creating a culture of architects who can build and interpret these blueprints for ongoing success. 

What Is A Business Architect?

A business architect is not only someone who can envision the end result, it's someone who can direct the mapping of how to build this end goal into a blueprint. They're skilled at planning, but they don't stop there. They also understand what it takes to actually make it happen and bring it to life.
On its own, a blueprint is unhelpful. You or I could be handed a blueprint to build a skyscraper in Atlanta, but that doesn't mean we could actually make it happen. And this is the difference between people and architects. Architects know how to create the plan, gather the team, build the project, and do it in a way that lasts. They also instill in the team the seeds for them to be able to do it themselves. 
In a sense, good architecting is like great parenting preparing kids for the future. An architect also knows how to foster success and minimize failure. They know the deep underlying roots of what contributes and what shoulders they're standing on.
Beware of counterfeit architects who rely on a single success to validate their abilities. The true test of an architect is one who can replicate success consistently in different and difficult scenarios.

What Is The Business Blueprint & How Does It Work?

The blueprint is a single place where anyone could go to see how to operate any part of your business. It's a living dashboard that allows anyone to quickly see how a business is structured, who is responsible for these areas, and it includes written direction. When I create or review a blueprint, I should have enough information to operate the organization without speaking to anyone.
A great example of this is the United States government  We have a blueprint with the declaration of independence, constitution, and amendments. We've got the three branches of government and people are elected through a designated process to fill these roles. And hundreds of years later, these documents still continue to guide us. 
To look at it in another way, a blueprint is the DNA of your organization. But, instead of it operating out of the heads of people, a good blueprint is one that is documented in some form or fashion and is as simple as possible.
As the CEO of your company, is there a place you can go to view the company blueprint and understand how it's structured and who is responsible for different areas, projects, and tasks? Can your team quickly get up to speed on the direction of the company by simply reviewing this dashboard? In my experience, the answer to this is usually "not really". 
For my former marketing company, this was part of the shift that moved us from reactionary to proactive. We started with a spreadsheet and built the Noodlehead Marketing Blueprint. The clarity was catalyzing as we knew exactly how to move projects, and ultimately the company, forward. As a result of our internal success, we began helping our clients build blueprints for their marketing departments. They too experienced the benefit of this intentionality.
Unfortunately, while we realized we were equipped to construct these documented DNA portals, our clients were not. In many cases, they hired us to maintain them, which was disappointing for those of us who wanted to teach and free other business owners from their chaotic operations.
The most depressing example came as a result of one of our largest clients parting ways with us. With this transition, we'd now have a terrific example of this process playing out, or so we thought.
We had worked with them for over a year organizing their marketing department and projects. We were knocking out action items and getting stuff done in tandem with their team. We were also teaching the team how this all worked and guiding them through the process. But, when we parted ways they hired someone new to oversee the marketing and it became apparent very quickly this person was not interested in our system, or any organizational structure. He operated out of his head, and in a reactionary way.
During our transitional time of parting ways, the wonderful organizational blueprint work went into decay and was gone after we parted ways. We handed this department off to someone who was not an architect and who had no interest in becoming one.

This Is Hard, So Where Do We Go From Here?

So the good news is I’ve got job security knowing I can consistently do something that provides tremendous value but so few others are willing and able to accomplish. But, regardless of how difficult this can be, I’m partnering with my clients to operate this better way. When I’m working with my customers, I’m looking to accomplish two things for them. 
First, I want to provide a consistent quality example of what it looks like to construct a blueprint from scratch and sustain it over time. I seek to reveal the fruit of this endeavor. If in cases where a business owner can’t or won’t do this, they’ll at least get to experience it firsthand. This is the step many will need to eventually value and embrace the practice in their future. 
My second goal is spending my time with clients and their teams to train them as architects. By asking questions, pointing out blind spots, and encouraging through inspiring examples, I’m slowly moving them towards an ongoing and sustainable way of building their project, department, and company. While I fill a void during my time working with the client, my long lasting agenda is for them to thrive without me. 
A great and highly utilized architect is someone who systemizes what they touch and regularly hands these systems over to others to maintain. It’s a scalable and organic way to grow a business. 

Where Do You Go From Here?

First, you need a framework to house everything. We developed and I currently use IDEMA to structure my blueprints. I’ve also set up an Airtable Universe Template to get you started. Read this overview of IDEMA to get started using it. 
As part of this process, you’ll want to establish intentions (purpose, vision, mission, and values) for your company by defining the areas of your business and determining who is responsible for making actions happen
Ultimately, you’ll want to create a blueprint that you’ll use and review regularly. Housing your action lists in the same place makes this more realistic. Start simple and document the most important items first. As you get a better understanding of how your organization is run, you can make the blueprint more complex. 
The blueprint should house the things that allow you to know how your company runs. Make this your top priority until it happens. And, don't let your team and their families be caught dead without it. Bullet Proof your business today.
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