Monday, April 28, 2014
While many individuals and organizations are great at creating “To Do” lists – and continually adding to them – most of us are not very good at taking things off the list. It makes no sense when you think about it for even a moment. Management guru Peter Drucker once said “If you want to start something new, you have to stop activities not worth the time and effort.”
A “Stop Doing” list can be powerful at the strategic, operational, and personal levels.
At a Strategic level, you should evaluate your programs in terms of the Mission Impact they are making. This is why having metrics at the “mission” level is so important. If you want to add programs, then maybe there are some you need to end. This can be unpopular with some constituencies, but if you truly want to leverage your resources for maximum impact, then it can be the right thing to do.
At the Operational level, many organizations waste a lot of time with legacy standard operating procedures and no one even remembers why they are done. (It reminds of the story of the monkeys & the cold shower which you can read here.) Ask “why are we doing this,” “is this really necessary,” “can we stop doing this?”
At the Personal level, I recommend using a “Delay List” as a step toward a “Stop Doing” list. When I have “to dos” that look like suspicious candidates for the “Stop Doing” list, I just put them on “Delay” for a while. Often they become irrelevant after a while. As Stephen Covey says, we have to discern what is really important – not just what seems urgent at the moment.
Stop Doing the less important activities so you can have more time and resources to focus and make even more of a Mission Impact.
For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost. You can also check out my book, Mission Impact: Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested. And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.
Posted by Dr. Rob Sheehan at 9:33 AM
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Sometimes compromise is necessary.
If a group can’t reach collaborative consensus then you have to move to voting, where different factions give up something they want in order to make the result the least distasteful option available – that will get the required votes. The results are quite sub-optimal and, by the way, this describes our current situation (for years) in the US Congress (I’ll stop; both parties are totally at fault).
The most famous story of how distasteful compromise can be is when King Solomon was petitioned by two women who both claimed an infant to be their own. His judgment was to cut the baby in two and give a half to each woman. The real mother recoiled and said the other woman could keep the baby. And this is how the very wise Solomon determined the child’s real mother.
Don’t compromise on strategy. No one wants half a baby.
Don’t be satisfied with a watered down version of what you really want – of the future that inspires you. You can’t go two places at the same time. Give your strategic planning committee the time to work through the options and ultimately join hands to support a clear future strategy. Yes – you may even need to bring in an outside facilitator to navigate through such a situation. But don’t take the easy route of agreeing to something that no one vehemently objects to but neither will anyone enthusiastically support.
Search your hearts for the dreams of what you really want, share these with one another, and then work toward a consensus vision and strategy that everyone can enthusiastically support. You will engage the future much more effectively and make even more of a Mission Impact.
Posted by Dr. Rob Sheehan at 11:34 AM
Monday, April 7, 2014
The cover story of the March issue of Harvard Business Review* is focused on Work-Life Balance, which – the executives surveyed by the authors – consider either a myth or elusive ideal. However, through the research these authors conducted of senior executives, some helpful ideas emerge.
The overall theme of the research is that we each need to own making choices around our priorities and not fall into a “victim” mentality about our lack of time. Also, achieving “balance” day in and day out may, in fact, be a myth. We can get closer to balance when we pursue it over a period of months or years. Here are some of my other key takeaways:
*Define Success for Yourself. Choose what success looks like for you in the various important areas of your life and don’t be swayed with definitions that others use. What does it mean to you to be successful at work or as a parent or as a partner or a friend?
*Create Support Networks. Communicate your picture of success to those closest to you at work and outside work. This could mean trusted colleagues at work who can be allies as well as friends who can provide emotional support or even pitch in when you are in a bind.
*Manage Technology Wisely. Or it will manage you. Train your various environments on what their expectations should be about how “plugged in” you are when you are at work, during the evenings, on weekends, and on vacations. Clearly communicate this and then make sure to follow the behaviors you told people to expect.
*Collaborate with Family/Friends. Make sure that those closest to you personally understand what success looks like to you, ask them to help you build your support networks, and make sure they understand how you are managing technology. The Harvard research showed that those who had enrolled their families and friends with their pursuit of a balanced life were much more satisfied with their situations.
Unexpected challenges face us all and can knock whatever “balance” we have out of whack day to day or even over a period of weeks. But if we take a long view and are clear about our priorities and choices, then we can all get closer to that elusive ideal of a balanced life.
*“Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life,” Boris Groysberg & Robin Abrahams, Harvard Business Review, March 2014, pp. 58 – 66.
Posted by Dr. Rob Sheehan at 1:47 PM