With 2016 upon us, reflections have been made and New Year’s resolutions have been laid down, but within a few weeks or even days many people will have already retreated back to their old habits, giving up on their commitments or forgetting them altogether. There’s good learning here for leaders and their teams.
To be successful in keeping resolutions, you must first have the intention or resolve to change. But that alone is not enough – we need to be more strategic from start to finish. In his book Strategy and the Fat Smoker, David Maister gives us an insightful roadmap for making and keeping successful resolutions, both as individuals and team members.
What’s the Point?
Every year one of the most common resolutions is to lose weight and, by now, people are packing into gyms, starting trendy cleanses or swearing off alcohol. Let’s say that you, like millions of others, have made that resolution. To establish a solid foundation for success, you need to be able to convince yourself why you’re willing to put in the effort to shed pounds and keep them off. It’s not good enough, for example, to just say you’ll lose ten pounds in two months. A better approach is to identify why you’re making the effort – greater energy for play with the kids after work, improved appearance for the family wedding later this year, etc.
If you don’t have a clear and credible answer to the question ‘what’s the point?’ then you’ll need to rethink your resolution. Just like individuals with a clear aim have a better chance of staying motivated, firms that have a credible purpose are more likely to be able to muster the energy, commitment, and long-term thinking required to achieve desired results. Once your purpose is crystal clear, you can move on to defining what success looks like and how best to achieve it.
Rules to Live By
It’s much easier to achieve results by identifying the lifestyle changes you need to make than it is by simply stating, ‘I want to lose ten pounds’. By shifting focus from generalities about your goal to a focus on principles to live by, such as strengthening basic nutrition or crafting a weekly workout schedule, resolutions can become reality.
In the same vein, teams can realize success by breaking down success into specific regular actions that support progress towards their goal. In this way success is not measured strictly by achievement of specific steps towards the desired result but by maintaining well-defined practices and routines that will enable you to realize the desired results.
The Decision-Making Journey
Once you’ve determined your purpose and the key principles that support your success, you can begin implementing a strategy to take you from where you are now to where you want to be.
Inevitably unexpected hurdles will test resolutions so there’s got to be room for adaptation. Perhaps an injury will derail your exercise regime or a vacation may tempt you to ‘cut corners’ on your diet. You can set yourself up for success by developing a strategy that clearly defines the principles that can’t be compromised and the alternatives that are available.
In the workplace, it’s imperative to ensure that every member of the team has the supports in place to stay on track when the going gets tough. If everyone is aligned on both purpose and principles, it’s less likely that small challenges will impede progress. Bottom line – the most important thing to ensure success in realizing your resolution is to put in place the practices and routines that make progress inevitable.
From Resolution to Results
Resolutions, for both individuals and teams, can be designed to succeed if you follow some basic guidelines. By stepping back and taking a more strategic approach you can significantly improve your odds from day one. Defining a clear and credible purpose for your resolution, outlining a set of principles to help guide you in pursuit of your goal, and monitoring your adherence to specific routines and behaviours can turn all the positive intention that you’ve mustered at the beginning of a new year into meaningful, long-lasting results.
If you’d like to learn more about the kinds of routines and practices that will strengthen your team’s ability to realize this year’s priorities, contact me for a brief conversation (firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-882-8830).