When it comes to achieving success the first thing you need to do is to ensure that you set yourself up to be successful. So many people fail because the get the set up wrong, they have the wrong focus, they don’t have the right roles and responsibilities defined, or they have overcomplicated the solution.
When you do that you can end up doing the wrong things which alway results in failure.
But even when you get the set up right: that you have clearly defined goals; a good approach which will deliver those goals; the right accountability and right people assigned to the right roles; and the simplest approach possible, then you still need to deliver.
Too many people still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I am not sure whether this is because they just assume by getting the set up right that things will just go as planned.
Life’s not like that, we still need to make sure that we deliver, that things don’t go off track, that we don’t fall at any hurdles that lie on the road to success.
To do this we need to track and monitor our progress religiously and for that we need to have transparency into what’s needed and a clear and accurate picture of our performance so we can see where we are and what we need to do in order to be successful.
We need a kind of GPS for our project or our goals.
One which shows us the route, what our performance needs to be to get to our destination on schedule, and what our current performance is, so we know whether we need to change our course or approach when its clear we won’t succeed.
We need to create a plan of the progress we expect to make, and we need to have a measure of progress every 5-10% of the way along our journey. Anything less than every 10% of the way doesn’t give us enough time to react if we are not making progress, and anything more than 5% means we will end up with too many data points and we will be doing more measuring than we will making progress which is the wrong focus.
So what does this mean?
Well let me give you a simple example. Lets assume that my goal is to lose 10kg in 10 months – I did say it was a simple example.
What we should do is create a plan of the progress we expect to make, so how much of the 10kg do we expect to lose each and every month. If we don’t know exactly we could just assume that our progress would be linear and we would lose a kg per month for 10 months until we reach our goal.
Or maybe we have a better insight and we know that we will lose 2kg in the first month, then 1kg per month for next 7 months and then 1/2kg in the last 2 months as we get close to our goal.
This allows us to create a plan of our progress. There are some other benefits to creating this plan, it increases our understanding of how our approach will work. If we can’t see the progress we will make, then maybe it means we will need to review our approach,maybe make it more aggressive.
Once we have the plan this gives us a clear insight into where we need to be every step along the way. Here I have used 10% intervals giving 10 check points of progress. If the project or goal was more complex I might increase that to 5% or 20 data points, to give me more insight into progress early to ensure we are on the right track.
Once we have the right progress plan, then we need to measure our progress and compare it to our actual progress to plan. In this weight loss example it just means taking our weight each and every month and comparing the weight loss to what we had predicted would be our progress. Easy right?
And as we can see here, we are behind schedule, so we can be pretty sure that unless we make a change in our approach we are not going to hit our goal of losing 10kg in 10 months.
For all our projects we need to create this same level of simplicity, this same simple view of the planned progress, and when we do that we have a GPS for our projects that will help us track our progress and maintain control of our progress.
Without that we are like a blind man running a race, we have no clue where we are, no clue how far we have to go and we may end up finding ourselves clutching defeat from the jaws of what should have been a simple victory.