2020 has not been an easy year, and neither will 2021
In this short Blog, we highlight some of the critical elements. It does not matter in what sector of the economy we work; indecision, will not support us in planning and achieving our business goals.
We use a six-step approach for looking at change from both a personal and an organisational perspective. Whether you are trying to get fit, lose weight or improve your organisation's effectiveness and create great ROI for your clients, customers and end-users, there are six elements of the change process that must be addressed.
It is unlikely that you will be successful without focusing on these areas and be determined to 'play to win'.
Issue 1: Clear and Specific Well-Formed Outcomes
If you are not clear on what you want to achieve, it's unlikely that you will achieve your goal. You have to be precise and focus on specific things or behaviours. In a commercial setting, you have to focus on the sales strategy that will lead to retaining existing customers as well as winning new customers. If you work in an NFP, you will have to focus on delighting your users and clients and providing good SROI for all your stakeholders and regulators.
You have to have a firm idea of the people you want to attract to 'consume' your organisations' services or products. If you are focusing on quality improvement in service delivery, you have to know the current state of play, including metrics on your current effectiveness in dealing with your users. You also have to know your future targets.
If we want to run faster – how much quicker? Is seven-minute mile pace the right pace to complete a fun run? You have to decide. Is losing 20 pounds the right amount – (you do have to specify precisely your target) - you cannot say you are generally trying to lose weight – that would be a much weaker goal because it is too generalised. The same with writing a book. What's the book specifically about? What's the story? Who are the characters? How long is it? What's the plot, and how does it evolve?
Specificity & Precision in Goal Setting
The more specificity, the better. You have to have a clear idea of where you are starting from and measure those things that are working, and not working and then plan for a future state when things will be the way you want them. Then you compare current and future conditions and notice there is a gap between 'current' and 'desired'. Decide how you traverse that gap and take action.
People who focus on generalised business goals achieve far less than those who focus on precision, know what a successful outcome looks like and can assess how near they are to their objectives.
They know what works and they plan their future. It's a bit like driving a car. You have a big windscreen to look out through (the future) and and the tight distance of travel. You have a small rearview mirror (the past) because although you have to check periodically what's behind you – your future and safety lie in what you are focusing on as you drive into it.
Issue 2: Focus on Role Models
Role Models are so important. Perhaps you should have your own imaginary Board of Directors in your head to guide your decision making. As examples, four personal favourites appear straight away. Elon Musk, founder of Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX, Peter Jones, the entrepreneur, Richard Branson the creator of Virgin and the Body Shop philanthropist, the late Anita Roddick.
It does not matter if you have never met them. Maybe they are people you look up to and admire. They are your heroes. Everyone has different heroes. So, you may never met these people, but they are role models for you. Now with these role models in your consciousness, what you would have to ask of these imaginary personal 'Board of Directors' as role models is 'how would they interpret what is going on in your life and business and what would they do?' You can have a Director for each part of your life for fitness, nutrition, career, relationships. And the good thing is you don't have to pay them, and they will never know all the free advice they are giving away to YOU!
Role Models for different situations
I have many role models. Here are a few of mine. My role models include Duncan Simons friend and fitness coach and Ellie Simmonds the paralympic swimmer, and, racing cyclist Chris Froome four times winner of the Tour de France. They are role models because they each have had their challenges, and I admire them for how they overcame them.
If you have role models you have a clear idea of what behaviours to emulate and rehearse frequently to become an expert - so you don't even have to think about what you need to do - it is just automatic.
So instead of wanting to be a successful billionaire like Peter Jones – you have to understand how he did it. One way is to read his books, follow his work with the Entrepreneurs Academy and Watch him on Dragons Den.
Becoming Good at Anything
Whether it is becoming a great business leader, a great strategist, supremo of donor relations, or a sub-hour 25-mile time trialist requires role models. When Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954, it was not long before twelve runners broke the record after he set the standard and proved that it was possible. Acting as a role model, he helped the others to break the self-limiting belief held by many athletes at the time, that it would be impossible to do it.
Issue 3: Rehearse and Practice Specific Behaviour
Knowing what to do requires practice. It was Gary Player, the famous golfer, who first said: "the more I practice, the luckier I get". What he meant was, "the more I practice – the less I have to rely on luck."
Last year I met an old colleague, Tom, at a presentation I was giving on 'Influencing Others' in Edinburgh. He liked my approach and the session and said that the following day he was making a significant proposal to an existing client. I said, "I wish you well, but you probably don't need my good wishes because I am sure you have rehearsed your pitch to perfection." "No", he said. "He's an existing client – it will be a breeze. I have made hundreds of pitches, and I have a good rapport with him and the panel".
Over Confidence and Under Competence
How wrong can you be? Later, I phoned Tom, and he admitted sadly that the client had transferred allegiance to his competitor rather than give him the repeat work. The feedback Tom received from his (soon to be ex-client) was that the panel who appraised the presentation thought his pitch was unfocused, overly friendly, loose and unstructured. In contrast, the proposal of his competitor was focused, professional, tight and specified the benefits that would accrue to the client.
Lessons Learned: Don't Use the Pitch as Your First Rehearsal
If you want to be a great leader of change you have to learn to talk to people. You have to know how people think, to assess what you can do personally to improve your performance. Focus on behaviours that will move you towards your goals and practice, practice, practice. Never use the pitch as a rehearsal.
Issue 4: Review what's working and what is not
Success at anything leaves a trail of markers, some of which are positive and move you forward, while others may have hindrances. You require the sensory acuity to measure and understand what is working and what is not. That means you need personal or organisational metrics that tell you whether you are moving towards or away from your goal.
When you are getting fitter physically, you'll need to focus on your weight, your BMI (fat to muscle ratio), average pulse and blood pressure as well as measuring the quality and quantity of what you put into your body and how often.
In an organisational context – if you are working on increasing revenue, you'll have to focus on donor, client user or customer retention, new service offerings against set targets. Suppose you are introducing organisational change to create a leadership culture. In that case, you have to focus on how speedily behavioural change is being led into the style and actions of the management team.
Issue 5: Develop Tenacity and Stamina
You have got to develop the motivation to sustain your efforts personally or organisationally. These come about by how you talk enthusiastically and positively to self and others. This requires a sustainable basis and pride in the need to achieve. This can only come from you. Creating a firm foundation is no good if you fail to have the energy and the passion for seeing things through, even when you don't feel in the mood or setbacks are getting your down
Issue 6: Take Personal Ownership & Responsibility for the Change
Take full responsibility and ownership of what happens. Don't blame COVID, the Economy, Politicians or others. Take full ownership and make no excuses.
Failure happens sometimes, and doing more of the same will have no positive impact. After all, repeating the same activities time and time again and expecting different results is a good definition of insanity. So do something else. If that fails, reappraise and do something else. Ask, "Is this taking me closer to or further away from my goals?", and commit to taking personal responsibility.
By following these six issues and continuously reviewing your progress, you can achieve any goal in a post COVID WORLD.
Email Philip Atkinson