The Seriously Ugly Win

I’ve had an incredibly busy month these past few weeks. Tis is the season that many new clients of mine are making their strategic and operating plans for 2010.

I am doing the same for my business – thinking through what went right this year vs. what went wrong. What I liked vs. what I disliked. The two are not always the same.

Yesterday, I finished up an offsite meeting with a new client where I brought up the subject of “The Ugly Win”.

An ugly win is one where you reached your goal, but the process was neither pretty, nor elegant, and definitely not stress free or effortless.

While more than half of my clients are having their best year ever – revenue and profit growth of 40% – 85%. Others are working like crazy to just eke out flat growth vs 2008 — these are what I call ugly wins.

Ugly wins are certainly are definitely better than the “ugly loss” – where you failed and you looked like a bozo in the process (been there, done that… though fortunately not this year).

The reason I bring up the ugly win is because even though its a win, it implied an underlying problem that could get worse if ignored.

My new client summed it up best. We’ll increase sales and profits this year, but it was absurdly difficult, nothing we wanted to go right went right, and we were just reacting the whole time.

As a business coach, my advice was simple.

First, take the win however ugly it might have been.

Second, recognize the ugly part of the win for what it was… strategically the business was somehow focused on the wrong opportunities which made life very difficult.

If you’re having a year that’s shaping up to be an ugly win year (and especially if it’s going to end up an ugly loss year), it’s terribly important to step back, consider what happened, and take a better, more effective approach next year.

If you’ve had an ugly year (whether it was a win or a loss), whatever you do, don’t just blindly repeat what you did this year in 2010. Find the flaws and fix them.

More details on how, coming soon. Stay tuned…

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