Compiled from different sources* and my own experience, I believe that if you do these seven things well, you will almost certainly be successful:
- Create a success vision – How can you recognize that you have arrived if you do not know what the destination looks like beforehand? Your first step is to create a positive vision of what success looks like. Don’t worry yet if you can achieve it. Get creative, be optimistic! Create the best possible outcome you can this of. Describe it in as much detail as you can. Write it down (Tool).
- Have clear goals to achieve that vision – Having 5 or fewer goals is key, Ensure that each goal has an owner, a completion date, and metrics to measure progress (leading) and accomplishment (lagging). Tools – Use Who, What, When (#11) with leading and lagging KPIs (or OKRs/indicators) explained here.
- Identify the problems that stand in your way – Be Precise. Avoid mistaking a symptom for a problem. (For example – We need to hire better sales people to hit our goals – possible symptom or problem. We have a poorly thought-out strategy – possible symptom or problem. We do not have the right leadership team with the right skills to craft a compelling strategy – likely problem)
- Accurately diagnose the problems’ root causes – Focus on “what is” before tackling what to do about it. Spend at least fifteen minutes (up to an hour based on complexity) thinking through the issue, pulling in relevant people who can assist when appropriate. When you feel you have properly diagnosed the problem, move on to Step 5.Tool – Use 5 Whys exercise
- Design plans that address or get around the root causes – Reflect first. Realize that there are many paths to addressing most issues. Consider as many as feasible. Write down the optimal plan as a “DRAFT” and share it with all of those who will be impacted to solicit feedback BEFORE making the final decision. One effective approach is to have the same people who will implement the plan write the final approved version as they are the best equipped to know the details and will, likely, handle most of its execution This promotes buy-in and ensures a more complete and proper execution. (Writing “DRAFT” on the top shows everyone that you are serious about wanting feedback and are open to the fact that you may not know everything. This also helps change to take place more readily.) Tool – Use The Map as your guide to understanding the plan’s impact on all relevant external parties in addition to internal parties discussed above.
- Execute rigorously – Focus and discipline are key. Expand the five main goals into sub-goals/tasks for each until you have a complete set of specific and measurable steps for all impacted parties for the next quarter and beyond if appropriate. Hold regular accountability meetings at all levels to check progress (at least weekly) Execute the plan for at least one quarter if not two quarters before you step back and re-assess. Tools – Use Who, What, When (#11) with leading and lagging KPIs or OKRs explained here. (aka metrics).
- Learn; Return to step 2 – You may want to make sure your vision is still achievable (Step 1) but I recommend going at least one year (assuming it is a big one) before re-examining it.
I highly recommend that you follow each of these steps discretely and boldly. Focusing on each step separately will free you from figuring out how to accomplish some or all of the steps in the process at the outset which can limit thinking. Also, be bold. If you limit your vision and goals to what you know, you may be setting the bar too low.
* Sources – Ray Dalio – Principles, Verne Harnish – Scaling Up, Ari Weinzweig – CEO, Zingerman’s Bakery, Author of many business books
Please contact me if you have any questions. Take a look my Resources page to see my Suggested Reading List, Podcasts, and other Business Tools.
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