Be careful, as you run your businesses, manage your departments, drive new marketing campaigns, launch products or acquire other companies. There’s a little thought worth considering as we embrace the power of information at our fingertips. Are we being suckered into believing that knowing what to do is the same as how to do?

Here are a few examples I’ve noticed in the last 12 months:

  1. You want to design a new sales commission structure; you research various schemes and decide that a version of one of them can be tweaked to work for your team. That’s the what to do. However the how to implement it is a completely different level of knowledge. I’m not sure people that know how are writing about it. For example the how needs to cover:
    • deals started during the old system but that will close under the new system
    • explaining why the new structure is better to your top sales person who doesn’t believe you
    • explaining to your sales team the psychology for the change
  2. You are considering cashing out, exiting from your business in the next 24 months. You research relevant papers, attend relevant seminars, buy certain books. You now have a great list that tells what you need to do to maximize your exit proceeds. It might even include a bunch of operational stuff that would make sense. But it doesn’t tell how to execute those operational items using your existing staff.
  3. You start to pull together best practice on Social Media. You discover literally hundreds of items worth doing. Before long you have a checklist that tells what to do. But translating that to your niche technology business in the laser field that’s the how to. You see the how needs to take into account real life. Aligning social media campaigns with the needs of the sales team and the politics at play in an office requires how skills.
  4. Research on why acquisitions don’t work is easy to find. Finding post acquisition checklists on what to integrate are easy to find. So it’s relatively easy to build a list of what to do and what not to do when buying another company. But please don’t confuse that with how to actually implement a real deal, with egos flying around the room, deadlines looming down on you, and financial assumptions changing at the speed of light while you assess whether the logic of the deal still hangs together.
To get things done. To really execute stuff for your business in your sector needs know-how. It needs how to skills. Don’t confuse what with how. It’s not a case study. It actually needs to happen.
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