When you establish a destination by defining what you want, then take physical action by making choices that move you towards that destination, the possibility for success is limitless and arrival at the destination is inevitable.
— Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
This may seem unbelievable: humans are often confused about what they’re actually supposed to be doing.
As a coach, I see it in my clients a lot. In business, I see it in business people a lot.
Sure, people don’t like to admit it, but we’re often operating at the outside edges of our confidence, qualifications, or capabilities.
It’s this tendency to feel uncomfortable that keeps us retreating back to our comfort zone.
Retreating back to our comfort zone keeps us stuck in the same patterns and routines of our past. If we stay here, growth and new results become difficult or impossible to achieve.
For that, I want to applaud you for being here and reading this. You’ve taken an amazing step that many people will not. You’re out on the skinny branches, and taking on something completely new.
Congratulations and kudos to you!
Even where an initiative is well-defined and believed to be well-operated, there is often a fair amount of variance in understanding and belief, between people with the same job, about how to do the job.
Rarely is a model or procedure for how to do a job clearly defined and agreed on by the people who do that job.
As evidence, just look at how many different diet and weight loss plans exist, then consider how many of their customers don’t keep weight off over time. (Most people don’t keep off the weight after they lose it.)
Even among people who are paid similarly to do the same job, even when they agree about what’s important, there can be wild variances in approach and productivity between and among the people who do a known job.
In many functioning businesses, ask an expert if documentation exists, and if they’ll say yes, it’s often not accurate or up to date.
- “Yes, documentation exists, but it’s not really correct.”
- “Yes, documentation exists, but you can’t really do it that way.”
- We do it differently now: there’s a better way, or the approach has actually changed.
Innovation is painful
Until you “figure out what success means” to you personally and to your organization, leadership is an almost “pointless conversation”
— Peter Drucker
If that’s how it goes when there’s a known job, expected results, and people experienced in doing the job, think how it can go when there seems to be a clear goal, but there’s no established means of accomplishing it, and maybe only an outline of the approach (the plan) that will be used to get there.
It becomes critical to:
- Ensure everyone knows where the buck stops when it comes to determining what are the actual desirable results.
- Thoughtfully describe the intended operational outcomes of an initiative, so it’s possible to know when we’re approaching them.
- Define, as clearly as possible, metrics that can be used to assess whether an intended goal has been achieved, so we can know when we’ve won.
- Draft descriptions, specifications, models, and designs that explicitly describe the intended outcomes of the initiative.
Sometimes it’s necessary to build a model, or a product, or tools, or processes associated with fulfilling an initiative. In these cases, it’s important to specify what result is expected and how we expect to achieve it.
At this early point in the process of innovation, we’re often operating on a theory. We may not really know.
Nevertheless, it’s important to start somewhere, test results, and modify from there.
To do that, it helps to approach it from our playful place. It helps to remain unattached to outcome, and open to any result. When we do this, we can retain the objectivity to see what works and keep it, see what isn’t working and modify it.
Review the lesson on Power, for more resolve and encouragement in this area (this link will open in a new window).
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
— Yogi Berra
Originally published at DylanCornelius.com.