The one thing every business owner has in common is the number of hours in a day. We often hear someone declare, somewhat despairingly; “If only I had more time!”
The term ‘time management’ is frequently thrown around, yet the reality is, we actually can’t manage time; we can only manage the tasks in the time we have available.
This revelation has could be a game changer for you. Just let that sink in.
Rather than getting frustrated by something we CAN’T manage; time – we can learn to be proactive about what we CAN manage; tasks. The logical question then to ask then is; “HOW can I manage tasks better in the time we have available to achieve what we hope to?”
…Read on, you’ll be glad you did!…
Steven Covey, Chris McChesney and Jim Huling answer this question profoundly in their book; ‘The 4 Disciplines of Execution.’ They provide a simple (yet not easy…but c’mon when has that discouraged you – you’re a business owner!) strategy to execute tasks that are wildly important. This is rooted in the mantra to say ‘no’ to the good, to position you to say ‘yes’ to the great.
The disciplines give you the power to execute your most important goals in the face of competing priorities and distractions. The following Key Traits are from this game-changer book;
1. Focus on the Wildly Important Goal (WIG)
Focus on less in order to accomplish more. It can be tempting to rattle off many things we have on our ‘to do list’, maybe to impress and tell the world we are busy. However, sadly this often is an indication that nothing is actually being completed well. Most people are guilty of this; the reality is, we often do have a plethora of tasks on our ‘to do list’ – this is called the whirlwind of life. Yet look at what has been achieved in the last 12 months – how many were done well? I mean, really well? If nothing changes, nothing changes. Choose one task, do it well, and navigate it through to completion prior to tackling the next wildly important goal.
Start by selecting one Wildly Important Goal (WIG). This is a trait that most lack; instead of trying to work on a dozen goals all at once, identify that one WIG that once achieved will prepare the way for greatness to follow. This doesn’t mean ignoring the work necessary to maintain your operation (this is the whirlwind we get caught up in), rather we narrow our focus on what we want to significantly improve.
By adopting this trait, you are learning to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the great. There reality is, there are always more good ideas than there is the capacity to execute – a good idea without execution is worthless.
How to choose and define a WIG?
When you choose a WIG, identify the most important objective that won’t be achieved without special attention. In other words, your normal course of business won’t make it happen. To put it another way; nothing great ever was achieved out of chaos. Decide, then take action with intention, strategy and clarity.
To define a WIG, identify and answer the following;
- Where you are now – starting line
- Where you want to be – finish line
- By when – deadline
For example: I am…. and I will be/I will have achieved…. by..
2. Act on the lead measures
No matter what you are trying to achieve, your success is based on 2 types of measures; Lag and Lead
Lag measures track the success of your Wildly Important Goal – these include things we lose sleep over such as; revenue, profit, quality, customer satisfaction – the reason they are called lags is by the time you see them, the performance that drove them have already passed – you can’t do anything to fix them; they’re history.
Lead Measures are predicative and influence the result – in contrast, lead measures track the critical activities that drive or lead to a lag measure; they predict the success of the lag measure and are influenced directly by the team. For example; weight loss – lead measures are the right diet and proper exercise that predict the success that lead to weight loss and we can directly influence these. Lag measures are the scales and physical measurements – it is easier to fixate on these yet they don’t influence the result.
Lag measures are easy to measure yet don’t influence the result.
Lead measures are the lever that moves your WIG.
3. Keep a compelling scoreboard
People play differently when they are keeping score. Observe people playing a game of basketball – notice the shift in focus how the game changes the minute they start keeping score; the change is not subtle.
The lag and lead measures won’t have much meaning to you (or your team) unless they can see the progress in real time. For example; ten-pin bowling through a curtain is not much fun.
The goal here is to create engagement – people perform best when they are emotionally engaged; the highest level of engagement comes when you (or your team know) the score – whether you are winning or losing the game … it’s that simple.
How to create a scoreboard.
A Compelling Scoreboard should only contain 3 things;
- The WIG (Wildly Important Goal),
- Lag Measures, and
- Lead Measures.
- Key Traits 1,2 & 3 are nothing more than a formula for creating/setting you up for a winnable game. Key Trait # 4 is HOW we play that game.
Nothing drives morale and engagement more than winning.
4. Create a culture of accountability
This is a rhythm of regular and frequent key team meetings (weekly & daily) that focus on the Wildly Important Goal – they last no more than 20 mins. During such, Team members hold each other accountable for commitments made to move the score.
The secret of Key Trait #4, in addition to the weekly cadence, are the commitments that team members create in the meeting;
Firstly, one by one, team members answer a simple question; ‘What are one or two most important things that I can do this week that will have the biggest impact on the scoreboard’. During the meeting, each player reports if they met last week’s commitments;
Secondly – if the commitments move the lead and lag measures on the scoreboard;
and finally – which commitments they will make for the upcoming week.
People are more likely to commit to their own ideas than to orders from above. When individuals commit to their fellow team members (not only to their boss), the commitment goes beyond the professional job performance to become a personal promise.