Fly Fishing in Evergreen and Business Strategy

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I am a business strategy coach. I am also an avid fly fisherman. So what, if anything, do these two seemingly disparate activities have in common? Fly fishing in Evergreen and business strategy?

To me, both require a Vision of what is dared to be achieved in the future. For a business, the future may be defined as the next 3 to 5 years. With fishing, the future might be just a day or two. But, having a big picture focus and plan to work towards helps in both activities.

Next, both pursuits should be governed by a set of non-negotiable Core Values. For a company, this could include descriptors such as honesty, integrity, transparency, customer focus, operating for the long-term good, etc. In fly fishing, things like "catch and release", catching fewer but larger fish, simply enjoying being outdoors, always buying a license might make the list.

It is imperative with both business and Evergreen fishing to "fish where the fish are". This is the essence of strategy. With fishing, this means studying the river or lake for the likeliest fish lies (which may vary at times during the day or because of changing light or weather conditions). In business, it helps if you focus and prioritize your time, money and resources on the products/services, customers/customer types, and geographies that have the highest potential for success based on thorough analysis and deep thought.

Similarly, while fishing in Evergreen, it's helpful to turn over some stream bottom rocks to see what bugs are hatching or most likely to hatch that day. In business, the parallel would be evaluating and deciding to focus on certain and specific market segments and opportunities. Also, understanding your competition and the trends that are/could be affecting your business are critical.

In both fly fishing and business, it is very helpful to know your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A fishing example of weakness or threat might be deciding not to wade into deep, fast-moving water if you are recovering from hip replacement surgery. (This is a real example that I faced recently). In business, you might choose an opportunity to expand the application of a patented technology into more products to take advantage of a significant strategic competitive advantage.

Having the right knowledge, skills, attitudes and equipment are critical to success in both endeavors. In fishing one needs to know which weight fly rod to use?, sinking or floating line?, 5X or 6X tippet?, which fly or flies?, dry flies or nymphs or streamers? The right clothing and waders/boots are necessary as well. The list goes on and on. The list in business is lengthy too. Are all employees equipped with the right information?, technology? Are processes and procedures clear and supported by all concerned?

Also, both fly fishing and business benefit from having goals that align with the vision and core values and fit the SMART definition…Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistically High and Time-bound. A fishing example might be a goal "to catch 15 trout per day over a 3-day trip (45 total)". In business, a SMART Goal might be "to increase sales of XYZ product in 2019 by 15% versus 2018 sales of $2,000.00". I'm sure you get the idea.

So…do fly fishing and business strategy have anything in common? You can decide for yourself, but I obviously believe there are many commonalities as listed above.

Oh, and lastly, both fishing and business are a lot more fun when you are successful. Having a SMART and strategic plan can help you attain whatever level of success you have chosen to reach for in both pursuits.

I will leave you with this…there is one universal rule in planning: you will never be greater than the vision that guides you…and this applies to Evergreen fishing as well as business!

Dream big…think/plan/act strategically…prosper!!!

Gary Ervick | 303-549-5631


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