“When you establish a destination by defining what you want, then take physical action by making choices that move you towards that destination, the possibility for success is limitless and arrival at the destination is inevitable.”
–Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
This may seem unbelievable: humans are often confused about what they’re actually supposed to do.
As a coach, I see it in my clients a lot. In business, I see it often in team members.
Sure, people don’t like to admit it, but we’re often operating at the outside edges of our confidence, qualifications, or capabilities.
It’s this tendency to feel uncomfortable that keeps us retreating back to our comfort zone.
Retreating back to our comfort zone keeps us stuck in the patterns and routines of our past. When we stay there, growth and new results become difficult or impossible.
With that in mind, I want to applaud you for being here and reading this. You’ve taken an amazing step that many people will not. You’re out on the skinny branches, and taking on something completely new.
Congratulations and kudos to you!
Even where an initiative is well-defined and believed well-operated, there is often a fair amount of variance in understanding and belief, between people with the same job, about how to do the job.
Rarely is a model or procedure for how to do a job clearly defined and agreed on by the people who do that job.
As evidence, have you ever talked to customer support for a company, not gotten the result you wanted, then called back and had a completely different experience?
For another example, just look at how many diet and weight loss plans exist, then consider how many of their customers don’t keep weight off over time. (Most people don’t keep off the weight after they lose it.)
Even among people paid similarly to do the same job, even when they agree about what’s important, there can be wild variances in approach and productivity between and among the people who do a known job.
In many functioning businesses, ask an expert if documentation exists, and if they’ll say yes, and:…
- “Yes, documentation exists, but it’s not really correct.”
- “Yes, documentation exists, but you can’t really do it that way.”
- We do it differently now: there’s a better way, or the approach has actually changed.
Innovation is painful
“Until you ‘figure out what success means’ to you personally and to your organization, leadership is an almost ‘pointless conversation'”
If that’s how it goes when there’s a known job, expected results, and people experienced in doing the job, think how it can go when there seems to be a clear goal, but there’s no established means of accomplishing it, and maybe only an outline of the approach (the plan) to get there.
It becomes critical to:
- Ensure everyone knows where the buck stops when it comes to determining what are the desired results.
- Thoughtfully describe the intended operational outcomes of an initiative, so it’s possible to know when we’re approaching them.
- Define, as clearly as possible, metrics that will be used to assess whether an intended goal is achieved, so we can know when we’ve won.
- Draft descriptions, specifications, models, and designs that explicitly describe the intended outcomes of the initiative.
Sometimes it’s necessary to build a model, or a product, or tools, or processes associated with fulfilling an initiative. In these cases, it’s important to specify the desired result and how we expect to meet it.
At this early point in the process of innovation, we’re often operating on a theory. We may not really know.
Nevertheless, it’s important to start somewhere, test results, and adjust from there.
To do that, it helps to approach it from our playful place. It helps to stay unattached to outcome, and open to any result. When we do this, we can stay objective about what works and keep it, see what isn’t working and change it.
Review the lesson on Power, for more resolve and encouragement in this area (this link will open in a new window).
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
For More Information
- Steve Maraboli:
- Peter Drucker: By Jeff McNeill – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffmcneill/5789354451/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
- Man on bridge: iStock/BrianAJackson
- Yogi Berra: Baseball Digest, front cover, September 1956 issue. , Public Domain, Link
Also published on Medium.