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Measure Your Mission

Martin looked at the calendar on his wall and back to the invite on the screen to the off-site review. That can't be right he thought, we only just had an off-site to figure out this strategy stuff. He cast his mind back to the 2 days they had spent at the Hermitage Hotel in Mt Cook Village, it had become one of his favourite places on earth, the walks and the mountains, the scenery was just inspiring which is probably why they had gone there so they could really think about the big picture stuff and get some inspiration to help them develop their strategy, well their entire business focus actually. Paul, a consultant friend of his was right though, it had taken at least half the 1st day to really get them to relax and open up to allow them to get at the real stuff.

They had really gone at it, after two days of debates, some pretty heated and so many post-its notes that they had managed to fill an entire room with them, almost every inch of wall space had something on it. He remembered how heated the discussion between Anne and Simon had been about the values and who were good examples of them within the organisation. Anne had wanted to have speed of delivery as a key value for the company, Simon had campaigned vigorously against it, he actually got up on a chair at one point to try and make his pitch which thankfully he won. We couldn't in all honestly claim our speed of delivery of anything was good, so it clearly isn't something people value now he argued. Speed, he said, just doesn't exist in our business as much as we want to say it does, people would laugh at us, both employees and customers, Sally had added in, and that would mean they would view everything else as a joke and it would be seriously hard to sell it. He was right of course, our delivery and follow through was poor and needed fixed!

After two really full on, exhausting days but really satisfying days we had a clear set of values, a set of values we knew we needed to obtain but couldn't say we had, moreover we had a purpose that we all believed in for the company and a clear mission that was more than just platitudes on a wall. We were all on board and all of us ready to share it without teams. Surely that wasn't six months ago already!

Just as Martin was about to click accept for the meeting, he felt panic and guilt grip him in the base of the stomach, he'd just spotted the action point for everyone, "provide the updates on how your team are performing on your contribution to our journey to achieving our mission…" Martin froze... dam, he thought we haven't done that, how can I stand up in front of everyone and say I have no idea where we are on achieving our part of the mission, actually I have no idea where anyone is, is that just me? 

Reality 

Getting off site and figuring out those key fundamental building blocks of your organisation is vital and many organisations do just that, unfortunately even more don't. There is of course the risk that, for those that do take the time to think about it, what you come back with isn't honest, either to yourselves or the business but with a list of things you think the shareholders or customers want to hear which a real disservice to you and your organisation.

Worse still however is that many organisational teams leave these sessions without agreement on a few key things:

  1. What will you communicate, when and to who? The result is that all that great work you have done is quickly diluted, mistimed and loses its impact. Worse still confusion on exactly what was agreed exists and so incorrect information is conveyed to the business resulting in friction and wasted efforts.
  2. How will you measure success and how often will you do it? – If you don't measure how do you know where you are? Some companies commit to 3 monthly reviews and that's great but is there a way you can do this monthly / weekly? Failing to agree what the measures are to be used again leads to uncertainty or worse nothing happening. Ensuring that everyone has understood what the lead measures are going to be for each area to help you achieve the steps you need to move towards a successful mission?


Both are important and both need to be thought about carefully, this second point, how will you measure is of course of major importance. You need to be able to show everyone how you are moving forward, or not on a frequent basis to allow you to easily change course if the direction you have taken isn't correct. Think about it like this, when you start out on the road to achieving the mission you are basically conducting a little experiment, you aren't certain the path you are taking is the right one, so waiting 3 months or a year to find that out is crazy. Being able to fail and fail quickly is key and so by identifying what the winning measure should be and tracking that weekly and testing the output against what you expect you does a couple of things:

  1. You continually test your hypothesis that this is the way forward, if it's not then you have ample time to course correct and come up with your next test,
  2. Give yourself and others the data to show you are moving, not hiding things away helps to build a culture of everyone in the same boat
  3. By measuring your steps towards your mission, you quickly identify the areas which contribute the most to moving you forward, this lets you look to replicate this approach vs something which is just helping you stand still

Summary 

It's easy to have a session to figure out your strategy and hand out big grandiose actions it's quite another to put them in to practice. The reality is many organisations have these sessions and then come back to be overwhelmed with daily life and never truly build a measurable plan on how to implement things which must start before you head back to the office and needs to include how you will communicate things and when, what actions you will take and when, how you will measure things, and when.

The difference between mildly successful organisations and wildly successful organisations is simple, it's only 3 words. Measure Your Mission 


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Tuesday, 19 March 2019

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