Take the Short Cut to Go the Long Way

Entrepreneurs like to get things done quickly. They do not like to waste time because time is money. It is tempting to take a short cut Photo credit: Debbieallendale <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/142100186@N06/33070379162">Me</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>because it seems faster initially.

While a short cut works out occasionally, it most often takes longer and costs more.

We think fast is better. I heard an Atlanta developer say “patience is a sign of laziness.” Steady progress in pursuit of a worthy goal makes sense. Haste to get something done not so much.

Think of getting your team to embrace a goal you know is important to accomplish. The goal is simple, important and measurable. If the team knows why it’s an unrealistic to pursue it, they resist.

To push ahead is a set up for delays down the line. In fact, the goal may even go off the track all together. If you are forced to abandon it, the resources you invested are wasted. If you have not fostered a culture of debate, the team says “yes” but behaves in ways to sabotage the efforts.

“Short cutting” the switchback on a hiking trail is a bad idea.  It creates a new path up and down the hill which is faster. In time it kills vegetation and creates erosion. Restoring the trail to a functional state takes significant effort and resources.  Staying on the designated path takes longer in the short term. It pays off in the long term.

Use the following seven steps to start:

1)      Determine a goal or process that is simple, important and measurable

2)      Allow discussion amongst the implementers

3)      Debate the advantages and problems

4)      Make a decision (keep separate #2 and #3)

5)      Use scorekeeping that’s visible

6)      Communicate progress clearly

7)      Hold people accountable

 I witnessed the founder of his small company mandate the goals of the organization. The complicated measurements were difficult to follow. To my knowledge, the team did not engage in discussion or debate about the goals they were expected to execute. The scorekeeping for the sales team was visible. Each person had his or her own color. Good idea except the colors changed each month. You can see why people were confused when George was yellow one month and blue the next.

Whether your company has a team of 2 or a staff of 100s, take the time to engage them in discussion about the goal or the process. Give them an opportunity to debate the positive and negative impact not only on the organization but the people. Keep the goal simple, important and measurable.

In conclusion, this takes time. It is an investment well made. Your team owns the outcome. Everyone sees the progress. They understand the part they play in the success of the organization. Stay on the path. It is the shortest distance to your goal.

© 2017 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved

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