GTD, Entrpreneurs and the GAP
You’re probably familiar with David Allen’s concept of the “fundamental
thought process”e.g. “What’s the desired outcome? And, what’s the next
action?” But in this blog, I’d like to pull back the sheets and show you
something really powerful that happens in the GAP between those two
Something really powerful occurs between the idea, the opportunity, the
desired outcome and THE NEXT ACTION. Interestingly most people
I talk to see it, but sort of miss it. What I’ve had fun cataloguing lately,
and am going to describe, is that what happens in the GAP turns out to
be not only influential in getting things done, but also a powerful
evaluation tool or back-drop for looking at new opportunities and the people
attached to them. Something every person who has an Entrepreneurial
thought can take advantage of.
Here goes. First off a word of warning about the desireable outcome start.
The opportunity, the innovation, the new insight, the next big thing.
Whatever words you use to describe the start, starts always seem to
share some remarkable similarities. Let me list a couple of my
1. A start has or paints a desireable outcome that’s incomplete. An outcome
that you can see happening for yourself, an outcome which is only partically
defined and you and I quite readily fill in the blanks… with positive attributes,
2. Then there’s that visceral, Pavlov dog thing. Most entrepreneurs I work
with start “slobbering” when they come across an innovative idea or product,
or when they see some service or product gap in the market. They can
taste it, and the more they talk about it, the more they can get themselves
and or others worked up. “This is going to be great. Everyone needs
this. We’re going to rule the world, make a killing”… or fill in your own
perferred “rush” word. It’s not just a thought, it’s got physical and
emotional momentum to it.
Ok, so we got all that heat going on, and then we get to the 2nd half of Allen’s
fundamental thought process. What’s the next action (to get us closer to
the desired outcome)?
Here’s where it gets really interesting to me. It almost doesn’t matter
what the next action step is. Yes I know there are good plans and bad
plans; “What were you thinking?” and really very clever action plans.
But stay with me, and take a look at the GAP between the thought and the action.
Facing the fact that innovation and new opportunities and the plans to
achieve them aren’t nearly as tightly correlated with making money as
one would think… I have come to appreciate that often what’s most important
when looking at opportunities and likelihood of success… is what happens
in the GAP.
So what happens in the GAP between having the idea of the great outcome
and the next action step?
What happens in the gap between the idea and the action step, is what
you want to pay attention to. It defines others, it defines us. It
charaterizes us, it paints our stripes. Is a pattern, whether we jump in,
put off, focus,or focus on something else, personalize, refer, defer, forget,
obsess, etc. You see there are all sorts of ways to fill the gap. And we all
fill it pretty consistently with our MO (method of operation), our enduring pattern.
Guess what? Here’s my big insight for this blog.
People will show you and me their stripes, their pattern, how they are going
to operate long term, in the first few interactions with them. If we simply
pay attention to how they manage the first couple of gaps between ideas and
talk surrounding it… and action steps. It’s right there, and what you get at
first, usually doesn’t change much over time. It certainly rarely ever gets
better… in case you were wondering.
What you do in the GAP, is my best predictor for your likelihood to get
things done. Not only is it that simple, it’s a predictive pattern that most of us
don’t vary much.
The GAP between David Allens two fundamental thoughts processes,
the outcome and the next action step, turns out to be a rich area for
observation. I believe it is one of the best predictors for what’s going
to happen next in every business opportunity and relationship.
It’s a consistent pattern and if you pay attention and don’t ignore or
rationalize over it, you’ll find it is revealed in the very first couple of
interactions for all of us. The good news is that it is a pattern. It’s
not concrete. You can change it. However I guess that would depend on
whether or not you could get excited enough about the positive outcome
to actively engage in the necessary action steps 😉 There’s that GAP again.