Big Bang

Start the New Year with a Bang!

What will it take for 2010 to be an extraordinary year for you and your organization? One where you position yourself for success?

As we discussed in our previous post, “Complete Your Year Powerfully,” step one is taking stock of your successes and shortfalls from 2009 so you are free of the regrets, resentments, guilt or denial that could drain you of energy as you enter the New Year.

Once you’re at peace with 2009, the opportunity before you is to generate a deep alignment around a bold, ambitious future for 2010. Rather than merely reacting to 2009 by extrapolating 2010 objectives and opportunities from spreadsheets of best case/worst case scenarios, we recommend a generative approach. This is much more powerful and energizing, but it will require you to think deeper.

Gather your team and imagine you are rolling the clock forward to the end of 2010, and ask yourselves the questions below. Let the conversation be guided by imagination and possibility rather than prediction and constraints. Make this a “remembering” exercise rather than a “predicting,” “anticipating” or “planning” conversation.

  1. What did we accomplish in 2010 that allowed us to be so successful?
  2. How did we distinguish ourselves in the eyes of our customers, key stakeholders and team members?
  3. What meaningful positive changes did we cause with respect to products, services, processes or performance?
  4. What are we known for today (end of 2010) that we were not known for in 2009 – internally or externally – that we feel good about?
  5. What characteristics did we exhibit as a team that we are proud of?
  6. What obstacles did we overcome, and how did we do so?

Now, take whatever time is needed to narrow this list down to the 4-6 items – strategic commitments – that fit in the space between mere prediction and fantasy. These should be aspirational, yet plausible – otherwise people will nod “yes” but feel “no way,” which will evidence itself in the lack of effort people expend trying to deliver. These items should be those that every single person in the room aligns with; by that we mean they are willing to make the list their own, and fully buy into their achievement.

This discussion might take several hours, or even extend over multiple meetings. Better to get total alignment now than deal with the, “but it wasn’t really my idea and I didn’t think we could do it’s” later on when progress is lacking.

Establish owners for each item, with clear measures of success, and agree on a process to track these on a monthly or quarterly basis – or more frequently if necessary.

Communicate these items to your entire organization, and ask people to ensure that what they are working on connects to at least one strategic commitment.

One last thought – people’s mood, outlook and behavior are driven by what they are anticipating and looking forward to (good or bad). Which means the primary job of leaders is to get people inspired about what their organization can achieve, and ensure they are clear about how to achieve it. This approach incorporates both these dimensions, therefore if done well will enable you to start your year with a bang.

Posted by Josh Leibner and Gershon Mader

Founder and President of Quantum Performance Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in generating total alignment and engagement in organizations.

His work has encompassed a broad range of industries including banking, telecommunications, manufacturing, entertainment, real estate, retail, startups and non-profits.

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