We all struggle to change, to do new things, to grow, to implement new strategies, initiatives, and programs. Too often, we and our customers fall short. We don’t quite achieve the goal, we change midstream, we abandon what we were seeking to achieve, pursuing something completely different.
Sometimes, change is more difficult than we anticipated. Surprises emerge, we forgot to consider certain things, circumstances change. We have greater problems aligning everyone around the change initiative and move forward.
It’s inevitable that many change initiatives lose steam, not for lack of enthusiasm or even commitment, but we just lose our way. It’s not for lack of activity or action plans. Too often, I think we and our teams lack Clarity on what we are trying to achieve, why, and how we know when we’ve gotten there.
There’s the great exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Too often, our sales initiatives or our customers’ buying initiatives resemble this—we’re going somewhere, we just don’t know where or when we are going to get there. There may be a frenzy of “execution” activity that makes us feel like we are making progress, but in the end we may not have accomplished a lot.
We all suffer from this. I think a lot is driven by the complexity of the things we are trying to achieve. Any organization is a complex set of systems, subsystems, interactions between groups and people. Each has an impact in our abilities to achieve our goals. It’s easy to get diverted or defocused. Aligning people with differing priorities, goals, and capabilities—and keeping them aligned—is challenging.
We leverage Insights as the “rallying point” for ourselves, our teams, and our customers to identify opportunities and create a sense of urgency to change. We engage our customers in contructing Insight, helping them own it for themselves, helping them develop the plan to move forward in execution.
But we run great risk, we can have great Insights. Our customers can be excited about the Insights and may be looking to move forward. Then things stall out. It’s at this point that Clarity becomes so critical.
If, at the outset of any change efforts (and every sales opportunity is a change initiative), we have great Clarity and alignment around what it is we are trying to do, it allows us to reconfirm and refocus our efforts as obstacles and difficulties happen.
So what do I mean about clarity?
Clarity is a quality of having something that is easily understood by everyone involved, easily expressed and remembered—in a very precise way.
To have clarity in our strategies, goals, and objectives, we have to know:
- What it is we are trying to achieve—specifically, in one sentence?
- Why we are doing this? What is it that we hope to eliminate or stop? What condition are we seeking to change?
- How do we know when we achieve our goal? How will we measure and track our attainment?
- When do we hope to achieve our goal?
Once we have defined these, we have to make sure everyone in the organization has the same clarity and focus. Can everyone involved explain what we are trying to do, by when, and how we measure success?
As we move forward in execution, coming back to these keeps us grounded, focused, and on track. When things start slowing down, or as we start to encounter difficulties, we keep going back to these four things to get back on track.
To achieve our goals and produce results, to help our customers grow, start with Insight, be very Clear about what you are trying to achieve, then Execute.
This article was originally published by Partners in Excellence
Published: January 7, 2014