While on my many travels to client sites, I often get the opportunity to listen to lectures and audiobooks while in the car. Most of the subjects I select have to do with human interactions and dynamics on the best ways they can be improved in the future. This time I listened to a Ted Talk by Sarah Lewis, Embrace the Near Win. There were many points within her talk that can be applied to the art of strategic planning. We will spend this week going through the 5.5 Lessons from embracing the near win.

Lesson 1: “What gets us to convert success into mastery?”

From Sarah’s perspective, it comes “when we start to value the gift of a near win.” Developing the strategic plan’s goals seem to be the easiest part for most organizations.

To be the premier provider of technology services in the food industry…

To be the top choice healthcare provider in the community…,etc.

These board sweeping statements often don’t identify the moment in time to measure success. But for those organizations that do take the time to outline a true result to measure success, magic begins to happen. People rally. People are inspired and come together to identify key action items to reach the goal. Sometimes you do all you can and you don’t quite cross that finish line for your organization. What should do in that moment? The answer: celebrate. Sometimes you have to celebrate what it took to get the near win.

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Lesson 2: Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit.

We can all identify either companies or people who are “committed” to a goal but don’t take action towards that commitment. Mastery is on a deeper level. It requires pursuit, action, constant movement to propel you and your team forward. It requires taking thoughts out of your head and translating them into actions within your organization. Believe me, I realize how hard this part is, I struggle with getting the tangled ball of thoughts in my head out into clear, concise action items towards a goal.

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In our software at AchieveIt, we have status lights that identified your goal’s progress in red, yellow and green status indicators. One of the most common support questions is how to change the status lights from any other color to green. Your mastery of pursuing your goals is not solely based on whether your goal remains in the green the entire length of the plan. It’s not about sandbagging your action items just to make sure they are always in the green. It’s identifying the true tasks and deliverables that will drive you and the rest of your organization to be in constant pursuit of that greater goal.

Sometimes you don’t always end up in the green. But the pursuit of actions and deliverables that will truly drive you towards your goal is critical. Once your existing processes are operationalized to chase after your goal, it becomes a part of your organization’s fabric. You will see that pursuit remain as a constant idea for your team members.

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Maria Frantz
Maria Frantz
Maria Frantz is AchieveIt’s VP of Operations, a proud Georgia Tech Grad, and a Master of Statistics. When she’s not building strategic plans you can find Maria painting and haphazardly attempting to learn how to play the violin, guitar, and trumpet.