Think about this: Your strategy will never seem as urgent as your “day job” in the moment. I recently heard Chris McChesney, global practice leader of execution at FranklinCovey, talk about why that can be detrimental to your business. He spoke about how we all get caught up in the whirlwind of the everyday tasks we need to complete, leaving us little or no time to work on bigger picture strategic initiatives.
McChesney suggests you focus on one wildly important goal at a time. If you add more than that to your team’s already busy schedule, the chances of executing on the goal decrease based on the number of goals you add. For example, if you add four to 10 goals you will only succeed with one or two; if you add more than 11 you will not have success on any of them. Understand that there will always be more good ideas than you can use, but keeping the number low means you are more likely to succeed.
To determine which ideas to execute, ask yourself the following question: What is really important and what is not going to happen on its own? Make sure the idea you choose is something that can be measured. McChesney explained that execution “has its own language and targets and that includes a starting line, a finish line and deadlines.”
He added: “Execution does not like complexity; it likes simplicity and transparency.”
During his presentation, he showed a photo of a screen an air traffic controller typically sees and then reminded us that despite all the planes that need to land, the air traffic controller still lands one plane at a time. When looking at your “moon shot,” as he calls it, ask yourself what are the fewest battles you need to fight in order to win the war.” Eliminate everything else and focus on those.
Let your team determine what the lead measurements for the goal will be because “the people within 12 feet of the work understand the cause and effect relationship best,” he explained.
He also said you absolutely must keep a scorecard. “People ‘play’ differently when a score is kept.” In other words, people want to know if they are winning or losing. “The number one driver of morale and engagement is whether people think they are winning and whether that matters.”
It is up to you as a leader to make sure your people are playing a winnable game.
Once your wildly important goal is in place, schedule weekly meetings to report on whether commitments from the previous week were met, review and update the scorecard and make commitments for the next week.
It’s important to make room for wildly important goals in your day because most organizations use 80% of their energy to maintain their “day job” and that day job will consume 100% of the energy if you let it.