In many of my recent projects, I’ve worked with clients to define “Vision & Value” for their initiatives. The concept of “Vision & Value” is an organizational change management best practice that facilitates conversations with key executives to identify goals and success factors for a project, creates alignment among executives around those goals, and identifies key performance indicators that will help measure success and realize benefits. These conversations are critical to the success of our clients’ initiatives. When these conversations don’t take place, we’ve noticed lower understanding of project objectives, more difficult implementations, and fewer benefits realized from the initiative.
The other day, I was doing some personal reflection and, given the time of the year, my mind quickly focused on New Year’s resolutions. I, like so many others, struggle to stick to my New Year’s resolutions. I come up with an action plan, but ultimately, I find excuses and revert to old habits. When thinking about how I could do things differently, a light bulb went off and I went back to the Vision & Value methods that I use with clients. I realized that these three exercises would not only help with driving success across project initiatives, but also with my personal resolutions:
- Align on the goal/resolution with others and determine the success factors
- Identify key performance indicators and targets for the goal/resolution
- Find ways to drive accountability
Below, I’ll discuss how these exercises can apply to both New Year’s resolutions as well as the working world.
Saving More Money – Align on the Goal/Resolution with Others and Determine the Success Factors
Like many of our professional projects, our resolutions are often dependent upon others so it is important to discuss and define success factors together. For example, a common New Year’s resolution revolves around the desire to save more money. If you’re saving money together with a spouse or partner, you’ll need to determine how much more money needs to be saved (and how each of you will contribute to savings) in order for both of you to consider the effort successful.
This holds true for company initiatives as well. Say for example your company is implementing a new system that impacts all employees. It will be important for the key stakeholders to align on the success factors and goals of this implementation as a team – otherwise, people may only be looking at the impacts from a departmental basis, and may have little insight into what others may want from the system.
Getting More Sleep – Identify Key Performance Indicators and Targets for the Goal/Resolution
Another common New Year’s resolution is to get more sleep. While it is an ambitious resolution, the idea of “more” is usually not specific enough to drive a behavior change. Therefore, it would be important to document/measure how much sleep you get in your “current state,” and then set a target to achieve, with specific parameters around your goal (e.g., add 10 more minutes on average per month or 1 hour more Monday through Thursday). This seems simple enough, however, you need to not only track progress (e.g., time you went to bed, time you woke up), but you need to measure sleep in a way that provides useful data for you (e.g., sleep app, daily journal). Without this useful information, you’ll have difficulty determining (quantitively, at least) if you’re making progress towards your resolution.
In projects, key performance indicators are vital to measuring the success of a project (and remember this is measuring the success that was fully discussed and agreed upon in the earlier section). Without establishing KPIs early on, and determining reliable ways to measure them, you’ll be hard pressed to answer the question of whether you and your team were successful or not.
Losing Weight – Find Ways to Drive Accountability
Ahh – losing weight, the most common resolution of them all. True story: I was complaining to a friend in college (who was in far better shape than me) about needing to lose weight and asked for any exercise tips, how he does it, etc. He said, “if you’re serious about wanting to lose weight, I have something that might work for you.” Curious and secretly hoping he could magically shrink my waistline, I told him I was serious. He said, “send me a picture of you in your swimsuit and if you have not made visible improvement in three months, I get to send that picture to anyone I want.” So, I did what I thought any reasonable person would do: I told him “no way” and walked out of the room.
Looking back on this experience years later, I realized the reason I didn’t want to do this is because it would have held me accountable to losing weight. Since I didn’t want to do it, I clearly wasn’t serious about losing weight. Or maybe I just didn’t trust the guy.
In order to be successful in our work initiatives, it takes more than just aligning on a goal and setting KPIs to measure success. That’s where accountability comes into play. We have to find ways to drive accountability for the team that helps push us to achieve the goals we set. Accountability can be found in many ways, for example by setting up a governance committee to review progress or aligning success of project to performance management / bonuses.
I wish you the best of luck in your New Year’s resolutions. Happy 2018!