Hudson's Bay and Half-Way

Jun 18, 2014


The Hudson’s Bay Company outfitted many expeditions in the early settling of North America, and they had a policy of making the first night’s camp only an hour away from headquarters. Invariably when they awoke the morning of the second day, someone would discover something they needed was left behind. It was then easier to send someone back to get what they were missing, and rejoin the expedition by the end of the day. 

I’ve found it a useful rule of thumb in any project or goal to apply the Hudson’s Bay principle, and take stock very early on before it’s too late to start over. Do we have everything and everyone we need? Have we asked enough of the right questions? Have we thought of everything?  

Let’s say we’ve set a production or income goal for the year by the first week in January. That’s a fairly common practice. Before the end of the month, I want to fly up in the air and get a bird’s eye view of progress; make sure I’m on track; make sure I have the systems and resources in place to achieve the result I want. It’s still not too late to make adjustments, or even make a fresh start. 

The next most common (and best) time to take stock is the half-way point. Next week on the calendar we are half-way through the year. Where should you be in your progress toward your goal? At least half-way, right? 

Think like a football coach. How far have we come? How much further do we have to go? How much time is left? What’s worked to get us here? What hasn’t worked? What do we need to do more of? Less of? What should we do differently? 

All good football coaches start out with a game plan, but the greatest coaches - the ones who win the most - make the smartest adjustments at half-time. 

If you are on track to hit your goal, list the reasons why. By the way, if you are off track, do the same thing. “I am on track because ____________ ,” and fill in the blank. Or, “I am not on track because __________ ,” and fill in the blank.

Show your list of reasons to someone whose judgment, advice and opinion you trust. If you are on track, are you taking credit for it? Most of the time, we are happy to accept the credit and attribute our success to what we have done.

If you are not on track, are you accepting responsibility, or are you looking everywhere else for reasons why you couldn’t and, for circumstances beyond your control? That’s pretty common, too. 

Publicly held corporations are accountable to stockholders. Privately held corporations are accountable to their Board of Directors.

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