It’s human nature to exhibit caution when making a decision. Even dare devil Evel Knievel calculated his jumps before throwing caution to the wind (literally) and soaring over 133 feet of Mustangs or Pepsi Delivery Trucks. It can be good to sleep on it and cool off before sending that angry complaint email to your laundromat for playing nothing but “Macarena” on repeat. The smartest tattoo decisions are usually made when you draw the artwork on for a month, and if you still want it after 30 days, go back to get inked.
Especially in business, it’s normal to be hesitant to start something new. Change means training up on new processes, allocating a new portion of the budget, and incorporating new legal practices. But we all know that without change, there’s no invention. There’s no Model T. There’s no “one giant leap for mankind.” There’s no iPhone X. We have to make ourselves uncomfortable to make great strides.
You might be feeling like your organization isn’t going to revolutionize day-to-day operations for everyone on earth (unless you work for Tesla). However, if the mission of your company is to improve the lives of others in some way, the work you’re doing is still as important as inventing an all-electric vehicle. Your work is wildly important and there’s an urgency to accomplish your biggest initiatives.
How do we make the bold moves that will allow us to achieve your Next Big Thing?
Without the urgency to constantly make your processes more effective, you’re hemorrhaging money, time, and other resources operating the way you do today. And the more time you spend dealing with the non-optimized status quo, the more time you’re not using to innovate. (Read more about this idea here.)
I know it may not seem like business as usual is costing you anything; it’s what you’ve been doing, so it’s the established norm. It doesn’t feel like you’re losing anything. However, it’s easy to fall behind doing everything you’ve always done when every one of your competitors are urgently trying to reach their Next Big Thing while you wallow in The Norm.
The example we use is while you’re grooming your race horse, training your race horse, and feeding your race horse a nutritional diet to make sure it’s the fastest way to get around – your race horse is going to get old. By the time you realize your mode of transportation might need a tune up, your competitor has built a motorized Mustang and can reach 60 miles per hour in under 4 seconds, leaving you in the dust.
We see it time and time again; executing strategic plans is the first thing to be deemed non-urgent. Important, yes, but not something that has to be dealt with right this second.
You have all these great game-changing ideas that will propel you ahead of your competition at the beginning of the year, and, well, by about this time (after Q1 is over), you’re spinning so many other plates that you decide you’ll get to those Big Things “eventually.” Eventually = never, and we all know it.
Operating in a mediocre, non-optimized way – hours of reporting, dealing with inefficient software, funneling time into process work-arounds – is costing your organization. Every hour spent working on your old race horse is an hour not spent working on building that Mustang. It’s money, it’s time, and it’s talent. You are not afforded the luxury of waiting to make a move to reach your Next Big Thing.
There’s still hope for your organization if they’re dragging their feet on finding a better way to operate that saves time, money, and resources. Whether you’re the leader of your organization or you experience this lethargy and apathy from the front lines of executing the daily tasks that make the business operate, you have the power to spread the feeling of urgency to be better. It can be spread from the top-down or the bottom-up.
At AchieveIt, we’ve worked with several different-sized companies across industries to help them over this very hurdle. They were able to realize that there was a cost to waiting, deliberating, and second-guessing – that’s time that could be spent being better, more efficient, and more effective. So, whether or not you decide a plan tracking and monitoring tool will help you do that, here are three steps you can take at any level to help spread the mindset of urgency around accomplishing the Next Big Thing in your organization.
It’s difficult to assign dollar amounts to what you might be missing out on. e.g. How exactly do you quantify the time you wasted perfecting your race horse now that there’s a Ford Mustang? Once you have some sort of calculation however, you now have a soapbox from which to shout; losing dollars is urgent, so long as you can prove it.
Since we’re in the plan execution and tracking business, this is how we look at it: the talent and time you waste on complicated manual reporting and compilation is costly, as well as the opportunity cost of employees spending time doing those things rather than producing work that positively affects KPIs.
If you’re using some sort of spreadsheet to track your plan, you’ll know that it’s complicated and time-consuming. What you may not realize is that the time suck that is Excel, Smartsheet, Sharepoint, Dropbox, etc., is actually costing your organization money. Read more about this in our eBook here.
No matter what process you’re trying to improve to make more room for innovation, there’s probably an ROI calculator that guesses how much your organization could save by investing in a more efficient solution. Take these calculators with a grain of salt, of course, but these can be a good jumping-off point to equip you to vocalize the urgency of making a switch to something that doesn’t cost you nearly as much time, money, or resources.
AchieveIt is in the process of officially rolling out our ROI calculator, but if you’re interested in seeing the money that could be saved by using a plan tracking and monitoring software to help you achieve your most important initiatives, download it here.
Just like with any project, deadlines to make a decision are necessary to light a fire and keep momentum going. Wavering is not good. It eats up time and resources, and you’re not doing anything better in the meantime between second-guessing your decision and committing to something that is going to make your life so much better.
We’ve all done it. You keep a B2B salesperson on the hook for 3 months and tell them to check back in after another quarter to see if you have the right budget or circumstances…and the quarter after that… But the truth is – if getting that new software or service was truly urgent and important to your company, you would schedule time on your manager’s calendar for a demo, sales call, or in-person meeting the next day.
Save yourself the time you spend on indecisive check-in phone calls by setting a due date to decide. Put an hour block on your calendar for research into competing products. Propose an agenda item for the next one-on-one with your manager to discuss your findings and recommendation. Then, make your decision by the date you set. Keep it top-of-mind so it doesn’t continue to linger on the backburner and eat away at you every day it’s left undone.
Ultimately, you will eventually need a new solution to be able to just tread water and not fall behind the global business community. Though, no one wants to be forced into new technology because their operations are so outdated. It’s like using a fax machine in 2018; it’s embarrassing. However, you’re not doing yourself or that B2B salesperson any favors by wallowing in indecision.
The best solution to this? Be proactive. Look for improvements in your process constantly. Approach all decisions with agility. If you have a system that gives you up-to-date data, you’ll have predictive reporting and better decision-making power to make these decisions quicker and more accurately.
While one person can do a lot to spread a feeling of urgency across an organization to become better, amplifying that message from multiple employees is exponentially more effective.
Find your fellow employees who feel the need to reach their Next Big Thing. Band together. Set a meeting with your department heads, or if you are a department head, set a meeting with the CEO. It’s easy to lose sight of opportunities when you’re comfortable operating in your status quo, and some people need help understanding the costs.
People need help accepting that change is necessary. Convincing someone to change is difficult, but by coming equipped with the actual cost of sticking with something that’s been “just okay” for your needs, the urgency to act is amped up.
Your group of like-minded, determined, resolute, and data-backed change champions will be the ones who can help open the eyes of both leaders and front-line employees alike to create the sense of urgency you need to make a difference in your organization – and achieve your Next Big Thing.
If you wait to improve your processes and product, you will get left behind. Once you’re comfortable, start looking for something newer and better. Time is of the essence; there is always someone better than you out there, and if you wait too long to revolutionize your business, you’ll become obsolete.
Out of all the Fortune 500 Companies in 1955, only 60 of them remained in 2016. Those who didn’t urgently seek to constantly improve, make quick decisions, and understand the cost of mediocre operations, were out-innovated and left in the dust. Dynasties don’t last unless you work to keep your crown.