Leaders of organizations spend much time giving thought to, creating, and communicating annual visions for their enterprises; then breaking them down into monthly forecasts for their teams to achieve. These “big pictures” provide essential direction, unity, and meaning in the workplace. While longer term planning is vital, the bulk of organizational discussion focuses on the question, “Where do we want to go?” and not nearly enough on the rubber-meets-the-road proposition: “What must we execute DAILY to get there?” This out-of-balance approach is somewhat understandable because vision casting and goal setting is fun, creative and inspiring. Strategic and tactical planning, on the other hand, is mundane and harder work. It requires deeper thinking, more specificity, and often results in the awakening that a change in the daily routine of people is needed; change that can bring both pain and discomfort.
The reality is, in order to consistently achieve goals you’ve never reached before, your team must consistently do daily what they’ve never done before; including executing like they’ve never executed before. In short, the goal must be to make each day a masterpiece. I first heard the mantra, “Make each day a masterpiece” from the late UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden. Wooden was known for his intensely structured practices that required perfecting basic drills to the point of exhaustion. Wooden famously observed, “I don’t worry about game day. We practice so intensely in-between the game days, focusing on making each day a masterpiece, the games tend to care of themselves.” Indeed they did; Coach Wooden’s teams won ten national championships in twelve years, including an astonishing seven in a row, and four undefeated seasons sprinkled in for good measure.
Following are five thoughts for helping you and your team make each day a masterpiece:
- Redirect more of your focus and energy away from lag measures and to the daily lead measures that create them. Lag measures are outcomes; lead measures are the essential activities that create them. Lag measures are the result; lead measures foretell the result. There’s far too much discussion in dealerships about the “numbers” and anemic focus on managing the daily activities necessary to make them reality.
- Identify and communicate the key lead measures for each position. We’re not talking forty things, or fourteen things, but the two or three things most essential for creating the desired result; the lag measure. The wrong strategy question for reaching a lag measure is: “What’s everything we can do to achieve the outcome?”, because you don’t have the time or energy to do EVERYTHING that would contribute to the goal; and some of the activities would bring only a modicum return and siphon time from higher return lead measures. The right strategy question is: “What are the fewest battles necessary to win the war?” This narrows your focus to the highest leverage daily actions.
- Outline key lead measures in PSP’s. A PSP is a Personalized Success Profile that outlines, in writing, the key lead measures each team member must execute as a daily priority. PSP’s eliminate gray areas, and provide clear direction about each day’s most important tasks. They can be updated as needed; seasonally, or in response to market shifts. PSP’s become a coaching tool for managers to help their team grow and should include:
- The two or three key daily lead measures most relevant to creating the desired lag measure.
- Essential weekly activities: these are tasks that don’t have to be done every day, but should be executed at some point during the week.
- Essential monthly activities: these are responsibilities that needn’t be done daily or weekly, but should be completed at some point during the month.
- Train people to execute with excellence the lead measures you’ve outlined in their PSP’s. If one of your salesperson’s lead measures is “X shown appointments” daily, your responsibility is to provide the training and support systems so he can make effective phone calls, set and confirm appointments, and follow up effectively with no-shows. In fact, as with John Wooden’s championship teams, this skill should be continually drilled on and perfected.
- Hold people accountable for daily execution of the lead measures you’ve outlined as non-negotiable. A lead measure is a daily behavioral standard not a behavioral suggestion, which means those who don’t execute it, should be quickly held accountable for their failure. At the end of the day, people do what they’re held accountable for and somewhere along the line that is going to have to involve consequences built into a system of progressive discipline that gives the required credibility to the daily tasks you have outlined as non-negotiable.
In my The Five Disciplines of Execution (5DX) workshop, I present a strategy that has each team member post his or her lead measure results on a scoreboard during an early-morning Rhythm of Accountability Meeting (a five-minute, roll-call-style stand-up gathering). The forum this provides for quickly recognizing those performing well, and exposing those who do not, is a cultural game-changer; especially when one understands the dynamics of reporting to, and being held accountable by, an entire team and not just the boss. The clients who have installed 5DX in their culture attest to the incredible impact it has had on focus, morale, momentum and results.
Based on my experience in helping good organizations become great, I am convinced that a more ferocious focus on identifying and executing key daily lead measures is the next step already-successful entities need to become great. Any journey to greatness starts with the understanding that, when all is said and done attaining greatness won’t depend upon brilliance of your plan, but on the consistency of right actions; that corporate vision and monthly forecasts aren’t “destination things”; they’re daily things.
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Dave Anderson, “Mr. Accountability,” is a leading international speaker on personal and corporate performance improvement. The author of 14 books and host of the wildly popular podcast, The Game Changer Life, Dave’s message has impacted leaders in nearly 70 nations. His “in-the-trenches” background of starting and running world-class businesses, coupled with his relatable non-academic approach, creates an unmatched connection that resonates with audiences and moves them to action. Follow Dave on Twitter @DaveAnderson100