According to the Power of Full Engagement two behaviors dramatically increase the likelihood of successfully locking in new rituals in the typical thirty to sixty day acquisition time period. They call these behaviors Basic Training and they are very similar to the process we ask our Gazelles Clients to follow for developing Strategic Discipline.
Our last five blogs starting with Time Management - Managing Energy Versus Managing Time provided tips on how to manage energy rather than manage time. You and I work within the same limits of 24 hours each day. How you manage your energy levels determines how productive you and your business can be
Here are the two behaviors along with reference to how Strategic Discipline functions within these same principles to help your business perform at a higher level.
Chart the Course: The aim here is to launch each day’s ritual-acquisition mission by revisiting your vision, clarifying not just what you intend to accomplish, but how you want to conduct yourself along the way. The authors note that for some of their clients this may only take 5-10 minutes while others require setting aside a half hour or more. So what does charting the course look like? It may be different for each client. For some it’s connecting to specific deeply held values. Others envision how they will handle potentially difficult challenges in the days ahead. Still others set aside a designated block of time to reflect on their vision. This might be in the form or journaling, meditating or prayer. (We’ll discuss vision or mission next blog).
In Strategic Discipline crafting your vision is something done in the quarterly, and annual meetings. There we determine your One Thing for the quarter and year. Several clients have included this in every Daily Huddle or Weekly meeting as a statement or a question to begin the meeting. It’s a quick and simple reminder of what is most important each time the leadership team gets together. It’s critical to keep this vision in front of you. Many of my clients start the weekly or monthly meeting calling on leadership team members to recite the company’s purpose and core values and in some cases their strategy statement as well.
Chart the Progress: To sustain change you need to hold yourself accountable to the end of each day. Accountability is a means of regularly facing the truth about the gap between your intention and your actual behavior. Let’s say you’ve decided to work on treating others with respect. Suppose it’s due to you constantly starting meetings or appointments late with your staff or employees. It’s important to keep track of how effectively you are at meeting your goal. Charting daily the times you make people late, or better yet the number of meetings or appointments you have when you are on time is a positive accountability practice that will keep you on task. An example in the book is an executive who wants to be home for dinner 25 nights a month. Keeping track of your behavior each month means you won’t slip up, because you know immediately whether your schedule is matching up with your priorities.
In Strategic Discipline the Numbers in each weekly meeting and the metrics portion of the daily huddle are perfect examples of how we “chart your progress.” Each executive team member has a dashboard with their quarterly priorities success criteria (red, yellow, green) which they are required to update for each weekly meeting. The daily huddles should include each team member reporting on their daily metric which either contributes to the quarterly priority or their position responsibility.
There are times when negative motivation is required, however especially when you are working on changing a habit it’s critical to reduce or eliminate judgment or punishment when you fall short. The latter will only serve to diminish or extinguish the behavior modification you intend to build. Accountability, remember, is both a protection against our infinite capacity for self-deception and a source of information about what still stands in our way.
What should you do if you are falling short? Remember the principle of creating momentum and starting with achievable goals. If you’re not achieving the outcome you desire it may be the ritual isn’t grounded in a value or vision that is truly compelling to you. Perhaps the goal is simply too ambitious and needs to be implemented more slowly or progressively. The ritual you’ve put in place may be faulty and needs to be restructured. Frequently the ritual masks the benefit that you derive from holding on to an existing behavior and an unacknowledged resistance to changing it.
Measuring your progress at the end of each day, and as we do in Strategic Discipline, each week, month and quarter, is not meant to be a weapon against you or your team. Rather it is an instructive part of the change process. Much value can be derived from studying and understanding your failures as you can derive from celebrating and reinforcing success. Each quarterly meeting we ask clients to review “What Did We Learn” precisely for this reason.
Some of my clients have used the same theme or set of priorities consecutive quarters. They learn from their mistakes and miscalculations and achieve success on their next attempt. Building momentum is the key.
Next blog is about crafting your mission or purpose. It’s critical for creating a well of energy to draw upon. I’ll offer some insight into my defeat of cancer and how a driving purpose and vision helped me to stay on course.