Posts Tagged goals

Stop deciding and start doing

Foghorn Leghorn, the cartoon rooster of Warner Brothers fame, once observed of his young protégé, “You’re doing a lot of chopping, but I don’t see any chips flying’!”  So it can be for some collaborative engagements.

One of the critical stages of a collaborative effort is the formation of the overall goals and intended outcomes.  In a healthy effort, this part of the process can get quite lively with a lot of discussion and perhaps even argument.  Still, there comes a time in the cycle when the team has to, to quote a colleague, “chirp or get off the twig.”  That is the time when discussion stops and action begins.

As each program is unique, the method by which this step is invoked can vary.  Environmental factors can help the team determine the best way to keep the engagement on track.  Proper attention to the timely evolution of the initiative is a critical factor of the teams’ collaborative quotient.

  • Consensus.  Some teams will arrive at a common, well-understood set of goals naturally.  This might happen when the desired outcome is obvious or when the synergies of the team are high.  In other engagements consensus might take somewhat longer to achieve.  Don’t turn this into a corporate game of Survivor, however, where the members of the team who don’t share the views of the majority are cast off.
  • Schedule. In a time-sensitive situation, the team can adopt a scheduled approach where the time allotted to each phase of the effort is planned.  In this environment the urgency of the deadline can serve as an incentive for team members to become more flexible in their assumptions.
  • Edict.  Despite the promise of a democratic corporate environment, some initiatives exist at the direction or leisure of an executive or board.  in these cases the higher-ups may invoke executive privilege and short circuit the decision process.
  • Opt out.  In rare cases the team might reach the corporate equivalent of the hung jury, with the individual members unable to reach a satisfactory decision.  Rather than embark upon a doomed project, the team might elect to start over with new constituents.

Decide how your project is to be managed early in the engagement and hold the team to the plan.

There is another important thing to keep in mind.  Once the engagement strategy has been determined, every member of the team has to commit in order to increase the potential for success.

What group decision strategies have you found to work best?

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The power of a simple list

One thing I’ve observed is that people who habitually use simple to-do lists are generally more effective than those who don’t.  I think that’s probably because a simple list serves as a strong foundation that helps you keep objectives in perspective and forget fewer details, plus it provides a good basis for efficient time management.  Generally speaking this tends to make those with lists more organised, more reliable, and more productive.

My dad has made a simple to-do list a part of his life since I have been old enough to notice, and he gets more useful work done than anyone else I know.

I’m not talking about detailed, task-oriented project management here; that’s a discussion for another time.  I’m referring to a simple check list of personal tasks.

If you find yourself struggling to keep up or forgetting little things, give list keeping a try.  Keep a notepad nearby and don’t be afraid to use it.

Here are a few tips for the effective use of to-do lists:

  1. Make it a habit.  Start each day with a look at the previous day’s list and copy over the things that still need doing.
  2. Keep lists short.  A long, unmanageable list is an invitation to procrastination.
  3. Be specific.  Break tasks up into clear, definitive actions.  Doing this avoids ambiguity and helps keep you focused.
  4. Keep tasks achievable.  In addition to the above advice to be specific, setting realistic mileposts reduces frustration.  “Boil the ocean” would be a bad entry, for example.
  5. Prioritise, but be flexible.  Use common sense when arranging your tasks.  Take advantage of your mood, energy, and momentum to get things done, and don’t be afraid to improvise.
  6. Recognise small successes.  Take advantage of your progress to replenish your self-esteem.
  7. Keep the list up to date.  Maybe updating your list once a day isn’t enough.  Nothing invites inefficiency like an outdated set of priorities.

Do you use a list to organise your day?  Please help us out and share one of your favorite tips here.

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