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Two Tools you Need

Alan Andersen

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

The chances that you have not already heard President Lincoln's infamous line are tremendously low. And yet, how much power are in those few words that we are prone to ignore? Every time we hear that quote, we should be encouraged to pause and examine our time and energy output to make sure that we're using the sharpest tools possible.

In light of this reminder let's take stock of 2 standard tools used professionally (and personally, for that matter).

2 Razor sharp tools you should use today


First, and maybe most familiar are setting "SMART" goals.  We’ve all heard of SMART goals, however, are SMART  goals really best? I first heard Michael Hyatt ask this question when he nuanced the concept back in 2014. His subtle shift in thinking has been very helpful for me! Hyatt proposes setting "SMARTER" goals which go like this...

You need to set Goals or Objectives that are:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Actionable

  • Realistic

  • Time-Bound

  • Exciting

  • Relevant

The only variation I encourage you to seriously consider is drawing a clear line between Goals and Objectives.

In our firm, Goals are 13 months or more and Objectives are 12 months or less

This distinction helps us differentiate between priorities. And to be blunt, if you or your team can’t easily recall which priorities you need to pursue and when... then get out the white flag! Well, call us first, we can help with that. But if you do nothing, it's only a matter of time before you will be sunk.

Next Practices

Second, forget “Best Practices” and “Better Practices”. Embrace “Next Practices”.

Now wait a minute, Alan. Isn’t this just a gimmicky play on words?

I don’t believe so, but more so neither does Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and Mark Sanborn, author of numerous Best Selling books. (Sidenote, these are two men that I greatly respect and have personally and professionally benefited from their leadership in big ways).

Think through this concept of "Next Practices" with me for a moment. Let's look through the same lens that Wiseman uses. When researching for her book Rookie Smarts,  Liz Wiseman discovered this mind-bending fact...

Given the rate that information is coming at us faster and that information is also becoming obsolete... I found that if you work in any field that is technology related or infused about 15% of what you know today is likely to be relevant in five years.

WHAT THE WHAT! If indeed that discovery is true, and I linked her interview explaining her statement, what in the world is our antidote? Well, one layer of insulation will be adopting the concept that Zappos already employs which is “Next Practices”.

This concept is most fruitful when embraced and implemented from the top down. In other words, when a leadership team is open to exploring new and more helpful ways of completing responsibilities then your people will likely be more apt to embrace this way of thinking too.

Want the bottom line? Here it is, you and your people need the sharpest tools possible. I am trusting that setting SMARTER goals/objectives and considering Next Practices will empower you and in turn your people. Primarily because these tools will help keep your people engaged in mind and motivated in practice!

Equipping your organization with razor sharp tools will increase the probability that you'll overcome obstacles and continue climbing to the next level. 

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

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