Unfortunately, too many improvement initiatives fail to achieve success in actually improving business. Either the initiative dies before it achieves results, or once you’ve been working on it for a while, it didn’t make the real improvement you had in mind.
As mentioned above, some improvement projects are interrupted before they achieve results. It is not so common for someone to “pull the plug” on the work, which is generally very rare in the project world. Projects are often pursued even though it is clear that the chances of achieving the objectives are minimal or non-existent.
My experience of improvement initiatives is that the work slowly and surely fades away until there is no life left in the work. People are sad when they perceive that the improvement work they are doing is not prioritised compared to other things that need to be done.
You don’t get the support you need and want, but demands and expectations are more clearly placed on everything else you have to do. Then it’s easy to put improvements aside and do that other thing instead.
What started out so well when many were involved and had expectations, has now dwindled to a few, and then maybe just you as the firebrand. But your commitment also has limits and when it is reached, well, the work soon stops.
I have been there myself in various contexts, asking myself if it is worth continuing. After all, I’m the only one who cared if it turns out well.
Aims and objectives
Other projects lack a clear purpose and ambitious goals. There is nothing to aim for and dream about. And if you haven’t taken the time to clearly describe the purpose with your colleagues, then everyone will have their own purpose and work from that.
Moreover, if you have not set ambitious goals, then everyone will aim for their own goal, based on their own purpose.
Instead of the project focusing like a laser, the focus of the project spreads like a disco ball. It shines in all directions.
With a clear goal, you’ll have an easier time communicating what you’re aiming for.
With a good anchoring from the start when you create your goals, you are not alone in seeing the goals and you can therefore aim for them more easily together. It’s not just your goal. That is your goal.
When you set the goals you want to achieve, then it wants to take hold. Take in more than you think. There are too many people who think that we shouldn’t take so much. Maybe you think that goals that are too big and you don’t reach them make you sad and doubt your abilities.
Here it wants to distinguish between goals. I am a proponent of what are called smart goals, where SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Acceptable (by the performer), Realistic (from the performer’s point of view) and Time-bound (i.e. there is a date by which the goal should be met).
But there is also something called BHAG. It stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These serve the purpose of being so bold as to draw us forward towards them. This is because it’s so cool to imagine being up there, when these goals have been met.
We may not get there, but we will get much further than if we had set safe, small and easily achievable goals.
So it’s important to be able to use both types of goals; the SMART ones and your BHAGs.
I read an article the other day about entrepreneurs and how long companies survive. It’s shorter than many might think. Only 45.4% survive longer than 5 years and 32.8% longer than 10 years. It turned out that the companies that succeed more than others are those that have ambitious goals.
So setting goals that pull you forward, both in general and also in improvement work, is crucial to success.
So to sum up this week’s letter;
- Get a clear purpose for the improvement work.
- Set ambitious goals together for your improvement work.
Have a great week until next time.