“Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.”
I don’t care what business you hail from – professional services, the service sector or some bang, fizz uber product – you can bet your bottom, gazillion $$$$ that the one thing that is missing from your success equation is implementation.
The de facto modus operandi: “talk, talk, talk, talk….”.
You just love to talk about one strategy after another even if you know that each paper has languished at the bottom of one drawer after another.
Indeed, as an avid reader off all things entrepreneurship, I struggle to remember a single book with the heading “Implementation”. But look for ‘leadership’, ‘success’ or “The Magic of [name]’ and they are a dime a dozen.
The thing is implementation doesn’t sound interesting – and probably wouldn’t sell many books – but make no mistake absent some maniacal fascination with the step by step journey to getting things done, none of the Blue Sky Thinking is going to count for much.
I am fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system. The key ingredient for me is not the slightly anal system of file organisation but rather the question which arrives in your inbox every day: “What is the next action.”
In truth, I am not the least bit interested in your grand scheme. Even less so the fact that you have suddenly seen the social media light. No, what I am interested in is how many of those ideas that seem to spew forth at every team meeting actually get done. And I don’t just mean a cursory tick sort of done. No I mean done with such zeal, passion and flair that everyone stands in awe at your accomplishment.
Take one issue that you are currently working on. Do you:
- Have it fully mapped out?
- Assigned equally (or maybe not so equally) between different teams?
- Have a day by day chart mapping the progress?
- A due date for the next milestone?
- A vivid picture of what success looks like?
- An idea when the job is done?
- And is what you aiming for part of your mission to become the best at whatever it is that you do?
Very often implementation gets completely taken for granted but it is key to success. Yes, only slightly tongue-in-cheek but it would be nice to see you appoint a Wizard of Implementation; but your success should be measured by how many projects, tasks or ideas that you implement to the very best of your and your team’s ability.No longer will you tolerate “I haven’t had time” or “I didn’t realise you were waiting for me” or some other such yuk flavour of excuse.
I wouldn’t want to see you always revert to a Big stick to make your point. Far from it. In fact celebrating your small successes along the way counts for much more, but you have to be clear on what you expect done, rather than relying on a soup like explanation that leaves everyone wondering if you are any further ahead than last time.
There is no time like the present to change your thinking on this critical area. It is always easy to think that it is just too tough and gnarly to change the (rigid-as-stone) mind-set of people that you have given up on. The trouble is, you have come to expect mediocrity and that is why you continue to get it. No longer will this be the case. But, of course, if you are going to the raise the oh-so-low-bar by more than a few inches for everyone else, then that means as Chief Implementor then you have to walk the talk and walk it some more.
- Measure success by the number of projects that are completed on time, on budget and with a heavy dose of passion, flair and chutzpah.
- Do less. One of the main contributing reasons for failure along the way is trying to do too much. Create a Not To Do list and stick to it.
- Reward even the smallest of successes. If progress is a daily affair – which it is – then how about sending a few Thank You notes internally with a hearty amount of praise.
- If something is a priority then it has to be quantitatively made a priority. Measure it. If you find that you only spent a nascent amount of time on X project, then, guess what, it’s not a priority!
- And lastly, if you are not having fun then do something else. I don’t mean that you have to come to work every day with a fake, almost Cheshire cat grin, but if you are not WOWed by the project then say something. Don’t fake it because sooner or later your angst will infect the whole project.
One final thought.
The only true test of success is how many things you try, even when you don’t succeed. Too often I hear the immortal line “It won’t work”. My retort: “When did you last try something like this?” And the answer ….? There isn’t one because in 99 cases out of 100 it has never been tried for fear of failure. In my book – the one that says nothing is impossible – I say go for it, don’t look back and have some fun along the way. If you mess up. Great. At least you will have worked out a way it couldn’t be done but it will give you the feedback you need to try it a different and hopefully successful way.