Thinking differently: what to stop doing
If you want to kill your strategy instantly, just try doing too much.
Here’s a scenario most leaders can identify with. You go off-site to re-work your strategy or perhaps build a new one. It’s exciting, new and fresh. Everyone in the team is enthusiastic and takes on the ‘can do’ approach.
Goals are set, objectives developed, roles and responsibilities assigned. Everyone now has a fresh list of tasks to complete and targets to work towards. But, there is one step missing.
Rather than solely focusing on all the new tasks and strategies, you also need to consider what the team needs to stop doing.
There is a simple reason for this. We only have limited time, effort and resources. When we ask our clients what stops them executing strategy, invariably they will say things like:
We don’t have enough time.
We don’t have enough resources.
We don’t have enough money.
The challenge is universal. Every business and team faces it. The solution is to figure out exactly which team activities, initiatives and even roles are the most important to achieving your goals and to focus on these. Fundamentally that means you will need to stop doing something.
A Steve Jobs example
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he returned to a slew of ill- conceived product lines. Some were excessive and some were downright silly, but many were ultimately killed off for their poor alignment with consumer needs and wants. Ultimately he kept just four. Within just six months he returned Apple to profitability.
Here are the key questions that need to be asked.
Why are we doing this? (If you can’t get a clear answer – stop doing it)
Is this something we are exceptionally good at?
Is this going to have a significant impact on our success?
Some time ago we watched as a Senior Management Team shut down two major development projects that teams had been working on for the past six months to focus all their resources in another area.
As you can imagine this is not an easy thing to do because it directly affects every team member and manager working on those projects.
In this particular case the CEO and his leadership team were careful to include everyone team member in the decision making process.
Ultimately they not only made a good decision about what to stop doing, they also had their workforce squarely behind the decision and focusing their efforts on the one project that really mattered to business success.
The results weren’t immediate but over time everyone involved in that decision has no doubt it was the right one for the company.
The primary road block leaders face in the decision to realign their strategy and stop doing things is a lack of support from the businesses primary resource, its people.
It seems logical that most workers wouldn’t be averse to deleting tasks from their to-do list. However, due to various personality types, roles and experience levels within every team, some people are bound to push back against a particular strategy, product or course of action and can be difficult to convince otherwise.
In other words, they have developed a vested interest in a particular project or worse – have their ego attached to it. Ultimately you have to do the right thing and the right thing is always going to be what is the best decision for the team’s success.
The Rule of 3
The last thing you want out of a strategy session is an endless list of action items and people feeling like they are overwhelmed before they even get started.
Challenge yourself with an agenda that uses the “Rule of 3”.
1. From the past year, what are the three things we must stop doing?
2. For the coming year, what are our three overarching goals?
3. What are the three things each team member needs to execute that will help us achieve our goals?
Most organisations find this process to be a liberating experience. Team members will leave the strategy session with absolute clarity on the direction of the business and their specific role within it.
If you choose your tasks wisely and focus your team on the right stuff, you will be able to execute the strategy much more effectively and positive results will follow.
So what are you going to stop doing?