The Formula for Success: FAST

Imagine if there was a straightforward formula for success, a clear-cut guide to help us achieve our goals with greater precision and effectiveness. Wouldn’t that be remarkable?  Wouldn’t that be something worth learning?

After having spent over 20 years turning around failing projects and under performing departments, as well as delivering large, complex transformational change programmes, I have developed an approach that, whilst maybe not a recipe for success, is an approach which can significantly improve our chances of achieving it.

In my experience, most projects and departments are failing or under performing for the same reasons, and if we can avoid these reasons, then we will reduce many of causes of failure, which all increase our chances of success.

These common reasons for failure are:

  • Lack of Focus
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Lack of Simplicity and
  • Lack of Transparency

So if we can increase our performance in each of these areas, then we will have improved our probability of success.

Focus is about ensuring that we are focused on the right things. I love Einstein’s quote: ‘If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”. 

This is to ensure that he would be focused on the right things; solving the wrong problem, while interesting, doesn’t help.  If we are focused on the wrong things, it doesn’t matter how good the solution is, we will still fail.

Accountability is about ensuring that we have the right person assigned to the right tasks with the right skills and the right expectations clearly communicated. Too often, things fail because people didn’t know what it was they were supposed to do and tasks get left undone.

Complexity kills more initiatives than just about anything else, and given we have a natural tendency to over complicate things, this is a major concern. As leaders, one of our key tasks is to keep things as simple as possible, and get our teams to focus on Simplicity. To fight against this tendency to over complicate, if we can do that, we can make our tasks so much easier.  Complexity hinders our understanding, and when we lack understanding, its easy to lose focus too.

We also need to have full Transparency into what’s needed to complete a task.  Too often, we underestimate the effort involved, and then we end up under resourced or we are too bold with our estimates to complete, which then leads to cost overruns and delays. We also need to have transparency into our performance so that we can see how we are progressing, to see whether or not we are on track.

So this is my formula for success.

Focus + Accountability + Simplicity + Transparency = Success

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