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Get ready to succeed in 2016

By Bill Sedgwick

“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” Attributed to Winston Churchill

“I’m not good at future planning. I don’t plan at all. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow. I don’t have a day planner and I don’t have a diary. I completely live in the now, not in the past, not in the future.” Heath Ledger

“Luck. That’s where preparation and opportunity meet.” Pierre Trudeau

Sometimes, it seems the world is made up of two sets of people, those who plan and those who claim not to. To some degree, we all wander between the two poles – live in the moment and plan for the future, which makes sense. Over-plan, and you drive out spontaneity; live in the moment, and anything might happen and probably will.

So here we are, with a new year in sight. We will see a rash of advice about resolutions, lists of intentions and advice about sticking to those good intentions.

In this blog post, we’re going to join in.

As leaders, we have a responsibility to our teams to make clear where we’re going and how we’re doing on the journey. Try a simple three step approach as you think about your good intentions for 2016:

  1. Know the score with a dashboard.
  2. Take stock.
  3. Enroll others in the journey.

Know the score

Life’s a game, the sunny optimists say. If they’re right, you better know the score to know if you’re making progress.

Dedicate some time in December to put together a dashboard for yourself and your team. Keep it simple and clean.

The purpose of a dashboard, like the instrument array in an aircraft cockpit, is to keep the critical information we need to be effective in our line of sight, without overwhelming ourselves. To be effective, your dashboard must tell a story and provide a tool for keeping focused.

To tell the story of what you plan for 2016, design your dashboard with three elements: short-term objectives to be accomplished in 90 days; medium term goals for 3-6 months; and longer term objectives for the entire year.

Next, spend some quiet time working on the three elements. Develop the most detail in the short term bucket, the first 90 days. While working on the other two buckets, only put in enough detail to indicate direction and measures of success.

A tool that is very useful for creating a dashboard is a mind map. We use Mind Manager from Mindjet.com, but there are many others available. A mind map has flexibility and allows you to move information around easily.

 

Take stock

You and your team have had a busy year. You’ve probably been very focused on getting the work of the team done – have you spent time thinking about the health of the team?

To prepare your dashboard, sit down with the team and ask them:

  • What have we accomplished this year?
  • What have we learned?
  • How do we feel about what we’ve done?

 

Use the opportunity to celebrate the successes you’ve had. An interesting article from Psychology Today (http://bit.ly/1lOzngB) highlights the importance of celebration in a team’s life.

If you want to understand how your team is doing, try out our online team assessment tool: http://bit.ly/1XwwIEb

Enroll others

At the beginning of 2016, make sure you have a clear story to tell your team about what success will look like. Seek to do a kick-ass job of painting the emotional destination and the meaning of the work.

Elmer Wheeler (b. 1904) was a pioneer in the psychology of selling and taught that to engage others it is more effective to appeal to the outcome than the process. It was Wheeler who coined the phrase “Sell the sizzle not the steak.”

At the beginning of the year you have an opportunity to re-ignite the excitement your team has for its work. Remind them about the purpose that they are working towards. Focus on the ‘why’ of what you’re doing. There will be more than enough time to work out all the details of the ‘how’, which is where most of spend most of time.

Success goes to the prepared, so prepare by reflecting, planning and enrolling others.

 


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