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February 11, 2019

Shark Tank, the Bachelor, Survivor, and growing number of talent shows, reality TV has changed so much from the days of MTV’s Real World. No topic is left undisturbed; there’s even a popular show that explores being Married at First Sight:

Since it’s Valentine’s Day week, we’re wondering what relationships can teach us about entrepreneurship.

Yes, the entertainment value is high, but the latter raises important questions: would you buy a company without checking the financials or operational health? Would you purchase a house without an inspection or sight unseen? Would you hire without conducting an interview process? 

Legal assurances aside, due diligence is concept that enhances our ability to make sound decisions and provides strong protections in the face of changed circumstances. 

If we breakdown the meaning of the phrase, it literally translates to the “persistent exertion of body or mind or constant and earnest (and necessary) effort to accomplish what is undertaken.” Why then do to we employ due diligence so sparingly and situationally?  It’s certain not because we’re all lazy or unmotivated.  Entrepreneurial folks consistently rank high for work ethic. Just like our personal relationships, growing companies requires putting in work — everyday and at all levels.

Diligence contemplates working to achieve a particular objective. Entrepreneurial leaders believe the vision we set so clearly articulates how our team ought to jump on board to execute.  Unfortunately, CEO goals are not COO goals— and  when it comes to execution with excellence, no one is indispensable or insignificant. Indeed, the visionary outcome or end result is just the beginning.  Have you asked your team to restate this year’s company goal in their own words, or in the context of their particular role/position?    Diligence finds it’s groove where the goals of the team and its individual members align.

Diligence also requires continuity—  not sporadic spurts of effort.  It calls us to review and recalibrate our goals and work plans at regular intervals. That’s why it calls for constant or persistent effort.  This means employing a process, framework , or model  that incorporates a cadence for check-ins and check ups.  Diligence is the opposite of the start -then-don’t-touch-it-or think-about-it until -a-deadline-or-emergency-arises approach.  What system of accountability do you use to stay focused on your broader goals? If you don’t have one, you still have time to get started.

To the contrary, diligence is about more than task management or productivity; it’s a well-designed system for sustaining the things that actually matter. The definition’s reference to earnestspeaks the connection between work and underlying purpose.  Beyond accomplishing whatever you undertook to achieve, a diligent investment of time and talent in your team provides a greater understanding about how your organization operates at a macro and micro level.  It also expands our wisdom about the nuanced roles and relevant experiences of our team.  Both outcomes create space for empathy in leadership.  Just like sports sprint drills or practicing technique in the performing arts, diligence builds organizational character for the better.


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