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The Tenets of “Doer-ship”

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | April 13, 2017
We have two full time staff members, a part time college intern, and a lot of very helpful volunteers associated with Emporia Main Street.  When other organizations talk to us about accomplishing specific tasks in the context of every day activities, the question usually comes back to “how”?  
How do organizations and businesses that consistently produce tangible results produce those results?  If you sit down and talk to a productive business or organization and ask the question of “how”, you are likely to get an inquisitive stare in return.  For a lot of high energy producers, the process is intuitive, but there are some basic tenets of “doer-ship” that high capacity producers seem to embrace.  The following are a few that we have recognized over the years:
1.  Doers are obsessed with outcomes.  A lot of leadership models focus on processes.  The “how you should do things” seems to supersede actually doing things.  Doers are often frustrated by this model.  They are for whatever process gets them to the tangible end result as quickly and effectively as possible.  Once the end result is accomplished, they ensure that the outcome achieves their goal.  Going through the process isn’t the goal.  Simply ending the process isn’t the goal.  Producing a tangible result with the desired impact is the outcome that doers crave.  If a project doesn’t meet the desired outcome, they will punt it and try something different.
2.  Doers stand for something.  Any successful brand has a component of what it is, and what it isn’t.  For businesses, we often preach “niche” brand placement.  In that process, a mom and pop restaurant may say “we aren’t fast food, and we aren’t a five star, white table cloth restaurant- but we are good food at reasonable prices.”  Similarly, organizations must determine what they are and what they aren’t.  If they can’t say what they support and what they don’t support, how is anything tangible achieved?
3.  Doers evaluate at every stage.  The idea of “perceived success” doesn’t mean a lot to doers.  Doers will break up a big strategy into a series of benchmarked smaller tasks that inform the final tangible product.  The difference in most doer personalities is that they don’t get “analysis paralysis”.  Because a doer is constantly moving, new information can cause variation in direction but rarely results in a full stop.
4.  If it ain’t broke, doers still want to fix it (because it probably isn’t working as well as it should.)  Doers may jokingly say “good enough” at a stage of a process, but they don’t actually mean it.  After projects, doers are constantly searching ways to improve things.  They look at similar businesses, organizations and communities- and instead of copying things they like- they will develop merchandise, services or systems that recognize the need for uniqueness and develop something new.
5.  Doers don’t like constant vision processes, because they are too busy executing their own while adjusting to fluid opportunities.  What do we do now?“, isn’t something that you hear a lot from doers.  Doers have infinite projects they want to accomplish, but they don’t have infinite time or resources needed to accomplish tasks.  Doers aren’t trying to ditch capital at the end of a year or push directive planing on others.  They are trying to build capacity to implement larger scale goals.
6.  Doers can readily explain their role in projects.  Because doers are task focused, if you ask them about their role in a project or activity they can tell you exactly what they do.  We’ve all seen the big office where someone hangs around and seems to insinuate involvement without being able to explain their role…  Doers aren’t like that.  And, because doers are focused on the outcome, they are likely to expand their role throughout a process to ensure the objective is completed.
7.  Doers understand complexity of issues.  To an outsider, a doer can seem impulsive or erratic, but that generally isn’t the case.  Most doers understand the complex nature of achieving specific outcomes and can think through processes while accomplishing tasks that lead to overall goals.  If outcomes were super easy to achieve, they would probably be done already.  Understanding the nuances behind “barriers to entry” can allow doers to navigate processes to provide a positive end result.  Talkers will often interject “why don’t you simply do (insert over-simplified option that ignores significant issues)”?  Doers have a general understanding of cause and effect, and they will adjust tactics to mitigate issues because they understand complexity.
8.  Doers seek out other doers in equal, reciprocal and productive organizational relationships.  This one gets a little tricky, because EVERYONE seeks out the doers in the community, local businesses and organizations.  If doers aren’t careful, they will get overwhelmed by people that have “ideas” with little follow through.  Or, individuals will seek inequitable relationships (I will donate a couple of hours, if you can raise a ton of money, give me something highly valuable, etc.).  But, when a doer meets another doer in a common cause, special things can happen.  The highly motivated parts of a community that functionally make things happen is generally only about 3% of your populace, so coalescing doers together can result in a more vibrant business, organization or community.
9.  Doers value culture over commendation.   Doers don’t generally care about titles, but they do care about your actions and your history.  If someone introduces himself with a long and calculated title, you can almost watch as a doers eyes glaze over.  Doers look to people to prove their worth and create an expectation of productivity.  If that productivity comes from people with a fancy title- great.  If productivity comes from people that are just “Sally or Joe from down the street”- great.  Remember, doers value getting things done, and care little about the style points of how they got there.
10.  Doers take calculated risks.  Doers are generally the first ones in a project.  They aren’t trying to replicate things that have previously been done, because they are learning from past mistakes while taking advantage of modern opportunities.  A creative approach to problem solving, threat mitigation or opportunity fulfillment drives doers to push themselves, their community, the business they represent or their organization to new tasks.  The concept of taking calculated risks can make associations with doers uncomfortable for those that are trying to simply exist within the status quo without doing anything controversial.  For some, standing out simply makes someone a target.  For the doer, standing out is how growth occurs.
Identifying doers in your circle of work, organizational affiliation or community can assist you in accomplishing goals- IF you understand their psychology.  By putting doers in positions where they can succeed and feel productive, you can help generate growth.  Anyone can talk, dream, “brainstorm” or whatever the buzzword of the day is- but it takes a special personality to take abstract concepts and convert them into tangible actions.  Through appropriate identification, assistance and placement of individuals, we can actually get things done.

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.


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