The Adaptive Agency Blog

Directional Accuracy Beats Rigid Plans

by | Nov 7, 2023 | Strategy

Goals and plans. 

 We’re always making them. But how often do find ourselves pursuing a goal or sticking to a plan that we’re not sure makes sense anymore? 

 A lot of time can get lost down that rabbit hole. 

 Sometimes goals and plans outlive their usefulness. They become artificial barriers to keep us locked into a direction that isn’t where we need to go. We continue to serve them because they’re GOALS and PLANS. But is that a good justification? 

 Here’s a thought: What if we focused on direction over destination? 


Welcome to directional accuracy. 

With directional accuracy, you identify the direction you want your business to go. You don’t have to be perfect. If your direction is North, and you’re unwittingly going North by Northeast, that’s ok. 

 Because at least you’re not going south anymore. 

 And once you’re moving in the general direction of north, you start severing everything about your business that was designed around going south, even if it hurts. 


Sunk Cost Fallacy 

One of the reasons people don’t change direction is that they’ve already invested too much in going the wrong way. That’s called the “sunk cost fallacy.” 

 It’s why people don’t change majors when they should, why people get married when their heart isn’t in it anymore, and why business owners keep doing things that they stopped believing in a long time ago. 


When is the right time to change directions? 

The problem with changing directions is it leaves a lot of half-spent effort on the table. So we throw new ideas into ”next year’s” plan. 

 Here’s a better idea: always be course correcting, getting closer and closer to north all the time. And if north shifts, you shift. 


Why bother? 

Several reasons: 

  1. Speed. You’ll get to your best future sooner, and reap all the rewards of compounding over time.
  2. Fulfillment. Working on stale ideas and doing things just because “that’s how we do things around here” is a soul-sucking exercise in burnout. Your best talent will love to hear that continuous innovation is on the table.
  3. Iteration. Each time you course correct, you get a little closer to your ideal future. So instead of course correcting 10 times in a 20-year business career, why not correcting 100 times? Imagine what that will look like after a while! 


Some examples of course correcting. 

“We used to focus on transactions. We’re more established now, so we’re going to pursue value creation as our differentiator.” 

 “We used to focus on revenue, but now we’re going to also emphasize profitability so we can reinvest in growth.” 

 ”We used to take advice from competitors/peers, but now we’re going to meet with customers and let them tell us how to provide them with overwhelming value.” 

 You don’t need a goal. You need imagination and a willingness to try things without knowing all the answers up front. 

 And you don’t have to throw everything out at once. Keep working on your goals and plans, but pick one thing that you’ll change directions on and get going. You’ll be amazed at how liberating it is.