Sunday 30 December 2018

3 Words Can Guide You to Success in 2019. What are yours?

How will you stay on track to achieve your goals next year? This is a question I ask myself every December. Defining my goals isn’t a challenge; avoiding distraction so I can accomplish my goals is. 

This will be my sixth year using Chris Brogan's "My Three Words" exercise to think, act, and behave in ways aligned with achieving my goals.

Here is how Chris’ technique works: After setting your goals for the year, select three words that will act as prompts to guide you through the decisions and tasks required to achieve them. For example, in 2017, one of my goals was always to speak the truth to clients because that is how I could provide the best value to them
 – especially when they didn’t want to hear it. The word permission was my trigger to communicate my insights, observations and risks directly.

Your three words act as guardrails for your mindsets, actions, and behaviours. Keeping them visible and front of mind informs the choices you make as you complete your tasks. You are conscious of your words, and the price you will pay by not following them.

My 2018 words were courage, discerning and moment. Here’s how they guided me to success:

Courage represented my desire to make big moves in 2018. I was beginning to write my second book and didn’t want to compromise the picture in my head of what it could be. On the book front, it worked. I pushed myself to break standard formats and approaches. It also supported my goal of changing my presentation style at conferences, trusting the audience to customize the content live instead of me assuming what would be most useful. Courage motivated me to take risks at each session. What I still need to work on is the courage to say no more when faced with requests for my time.

Discerning is how I wanted to make decisions. This one worked well too. It helped me test my decision process: was I considering all options, what were the pros and cons of each one, and who had experience I could learn from? It also helped me resist giving a quick answer that was not aligned with my goals.

Moment is about focusing on the present instead of thinking about the past or guessing about the future. The more I could stay in the present, the higher my productivity. This word was effective in keeping me present when speaking with others but didn’t help to avoid distractions when I was by myself.
Overall, my 2018 words did their job of helping me achieve my annual goals.
My number one goal for 2019 is to finish writing my next book. All three of my new words need to guide me to this goal. Here they are:
Leap is about jumping into new and unknown territory. I must be fearless to create the book I must make, which is very different from my first. This will require taking risks and making mistakes; if I play it safe, I will fail. This is not an option.
Space refers to room within my calendar to seize opportunities or solve problems. I can’t fill my days at the expense of flexibility. This has always been a challenge for me: Defaulting to saying yes without weighing the consequences. I know I will be tested throughout the year and space needs to guide my behaviour.
Determined signifies the spirit behind never giving up. It’s about drive, tenacity and perseverance. Passion is the emotion that underscores these traits. I will achieve my goals this year and passion will fuel my progress.

Choosing my 2019 words builds anticipation and excitement for the new year to begin. My goals and word guides are set. It’s time to perform. Posting my three words on my monitor and reviewing them every morning will keep me on track. All I need to do is follow them.

What three words will guide you to success in 2019?


Thursday 8 March 2018

What would you do with a small change budget?

What would you do if your business needed extensive change support but didn't have a budget to fund it? Someone asked me this question at a networking event. Her company was about to embark on a digital transformation with only a small budget to support the people side of change.

Unfunded change needs is a common predicament. Many leadership teams are aware that people need support to adopt change, but don’t allocate the necessary resources to meet them. Sometimes, there are no resources to allocate.

Part of a change sponsor’s role is to make a business case for required resources, highlighting the benefits of appropriate support (faster adoption, higher utilization of new practices, better performance) and risks (slow or no adoption, service disruptions, increased costs) of not making this investment.

If the budget for change support is less than needed, the sponsor and project team must decide how best to use it; what will contribute the most to successful adoption of the change.

The options include:
  • Complete a diagnostic on the organization’s readiness for the change and define what is required to implement it
  • Build awareness of the change, why it’s important, and what people need to do to make it successful
  • Coach project team members on planning for and implementing the change
  • Coach leaders on their role as sponsors of the change
  • Support leadership steering meetings where members make decisions on the project
  • Review the internally-created change plan and provide recommendations
  • Oversee the most critical element of the change

If you could only afford one type of change support, which one would create the most value? What would you choose?

Each option has pros and cons. For example, completing a diagnostic would identify current perceptions of the change, risks to be managed, and support requirements to do so. But without ongoing influence, the project team might ignore these recommendations in favour of a faster start-up.

I would invest the small budget in supporting leadership steering meetings where members make decisions on the project. These status meetings are crucial to the success of the initiative because this is where leaders review progress, evaluate risks and make decisions including allocating resources.

Decisions are made based on the information and experience available. Leaders don’t always ask the questions necessary to validate the data and recommendations they receive. They accept project assessments like “we are all green” or “there are no significant risks” without sufficiently testing them. As one leader explained, “You need to trust, but verify.”

A neutral party with extensive change experience would ask the right questions to ensure leaders have accurate and sufficient information before making decisions. Their role would include being a “devil’s advocate” to identify risks. They also would add perspectives and options that might not be known to the internal team, broadening leaders' perspectives and options to consider.

Although a small budget for a change initiative is never ideal, it can be optimized through targeted support. Providing leaders with in-depth change experience when they need it most ensures their decisions are based on accurate data, multiple options, and knowledge.  It also builds their capabilities, including an appreciation for required change support.


Tuesday 2 January 2018

What 3 words will guide you to success in 2018?

This is my fifth year of using Chris Brogan's "My Three Words" exercise to fine-tune my annual goals and define what I need to do to accomplish them.

Here is how it works: After setting your goals for the year, select three words to guide your actions and behaviours to achieve them. Keep these words visible and refer to them often, especially when making decisions on how you spend your time.

It's easy to get distracted or invest time in low priority activities; immediacy often trumps importance. "My Three Words" keeps you on track by making your goals and planned actions top-of-mind. Stating them as questions provides you with quick check-ins to ensure you are following your plan -- is my schedule flexible so I have room for unanticipated requirements or opportunities? A year-end review sharpens your ability to plan for success in the following year.

Picking effective words is harder than it seems. From experience, vague goals lead to low-power words. You need to be clear on what you want and what you need to do to achieve it. Like most things in life, the amount of effort you put in determines the benefits you receive. The first three words I think of are rarely the ones I select. 

My 2017 words were Aspire, Prioritize and Permission

Aspire described my desire to aim higher, to move beyond what I had accomplished before. It acknowledged that I am best when out of my comfort zone. This word was an excellent guide. Last year, I worked in new industries, presented to new groups and adopted a new approach to writing and formatting my next book.

Prioritize is a theme that spans across the last five years. I wanted to prioritize my time and activities and avoid distractions and detours. 

I struggled daily with following this guide. Every potential opportunity was explored to the fullest without assessing whether it warranted the time investment. I failed to apply selection criteria including whether the initiatives were set up for success, if my skills and experience would make a difference, and if my time could be better spent. The cost of my conduct was lost time on my priorities. In August, I wrote "no" over my list of 3 words taped to my monitor. It was a more powerful word.

Permission was about speaking the truth as I see it to provide the best value to my clients and readers. This word guided me through difficult client conversations and edits of presentation notes and articles. Speaking honestly led to better dialogues and learning for everyone, including me.

My assessment of 2017's words has been a valuable input into choosing the ones that will guide me in 2018. It has toughened up my selection process and replaced what initially seemed like good words with better ones. 

My three words for 2018 are: Courage, Discerning and Moment

Courage is what I will need to make big moves in 2018. It will affect the content of my next book and how I get it seen in a busy world. 2018 is the year of "going for it," and I will. 

Discerning refers to the decisions I will make. My choices will determine my ability to achieve my goals, especially preserving the time and maintaining the focus I will need. Consistently, I will ask "which option will best contribute to achieving my goals?"

Moment is about being fully present and making my time matter.  Being present and productive is the foundation of achievement, not dwelling in the past or future. It's the only way to be my best.

I have printed out my 2018 words and taped them to my monitor. Each day will begin by reviewing them. I plan to use them often on my path to success.

What three words would help you achieve your goals?