Manage By Outcomes

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How do you know most of your work matters? There are probably a few things that matter to produce the outcomes important to an organization. Most work is simply effort and cost and does not produce meaningful results. You can see this with the ridiculing of office politics and people doing busy work in cartoons and TV shows.

If you are a manager, getting results starts with a system that focuses on outcomes. You have to be clear about what the key metrics that matter are. Then build your system to output those results.

It’s not easy because getting people doing what you need takes pig-headed determination. Furthermore, creating clarity is hard without clear strategy and vision. This often takes dialogue to get clear on what really matters to your business. Your attention and day-to-day is pulled by a ton of distractions and things that don’t matter.

If you’re not moving the needle lately, then think about how all the work that you and your team do contributes to the outcomes you want.

Maybe you’re working on outdated priorities. Or you have not refreshed your near term and long-term goals based on what you know today.

Anyone can work and be busy. But, getting the right things done requires taking pause and managing to the right priorities.

What outcomes are important to you now? Is your work set up to support those outcomes?

Give Up the Hustle

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It’s not that you need to hustle to survive, it’s that you seek the hustle to thrive, and still at the expense of yourself and others. ~ DHH, Basecamp

As we are closing the year, I do want to encourage readers and clients, as I have for many years, to give up the grind. Most things simply don’t matter. They don’t move the needle of your life towards results that make a meaningful impact for you and your business.

So, why not do less things that are more meaningful with more intensity? Your creativity in this age will have more impact than your productivity. And having the awareness to figure out what priorities are going to make a difference for you in the coming year is a wonderful way to get off your own treadmill and improve your life, results and health.

I have trimmed my hobbies over the years and focused more intensely on enjoying and committing to a few these days.

I enjoy the company of a few great friends rather than spread myself thin over lots of social pulls. It’s much more sane and helps me be a better friend to the ones I know are valuable.

There are some fantastic projects and ventures that I have committed deeply to. That has meant saying no to projects or invitations that may be ok, but don’t necessarily have much more impact. I only have so much energy.

Our family has shifted to new seasons in the teen years and I have given myself more to a different role as a husband and dad. I like this new season and I like how we are rolling as a family together through the journey. We are heading towards lifelong friendships.

I think the hustle has become a yellow light for me. It tells me that I am being inefficient with my commitments, time and energy. There are ways to get much more bang for the buck by simply detaching, questioning and prioritizing what matters.

You can save your soul a bit by questioning the madness.

What Moves the Needle?

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Most of the people I know are in a daze. Life is simply overwhelming. Sure, we have revolutionary technology that increases our productivity. However, are we really more productive?

We can push more information and work around like never before. But much of what is being pushed around is noise. It often doesn’t have much to do with the goal.

I’ve often stated that most things don’t matter. If you start with that premise, your mind can focus. You can cut through the onslaught of demands and unimportant projects that can suck your energy, time and attention. You can redirect your mind and work to what does matter. And my guess is that this is a very short list of items.

You have to honestly ask, “What moves the needle?”

For this, you have to figure out what your goal is. What do you want to exist that is not reality today? That goal has to stay front and center. Let’s say you have a business and want to make money. Here would be some things that don’t matter:

  • Coffees with people that cannot say, “Yes.”
  • Reading endless newsletters and emails that don’t change you
  • Traveling all over and making no deals
  • Working endlessly on your website look and layout
  • Organizing your office supplies

These are simply busy activities without a relationship to the goal. While we can be blinded by activities and effort, it does not move the needle. Wastefulness happens often because of our ability to rationalize and delude ourselves. Richard Feynman said it best,

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

I think it’s fine to do all sorts of fun activities. However, if you want to move the needle, then there are likely a few things that matter above all others and those are the activities that must be considered as top priority. With the goal of money-making for a business owners, it could look like:

  • Thinking specifically and creatively about creating value for customers
  • Spending time with the best customers
  • Talking to ten people a day that can say, “Yes.”
  • Developing ideas to help solve problems for people that can say, “Yes.”
  • Making selling a process that is repeatable and specific for a team

Those are examples that could focus your thinking and schedule so you don’t fool yourself. It’s an input/output approach to money-making. Do things that matter and move the needle.

It sounds simple, but we have to think about where we put our attention these days, lest the pull of things that simply don’t matter sucks all the hours out of our day and energy from our souls.

Consider making a short list of what moves the needle. Can you identify 3 things you need to do that moves the needle in your pursuits that have to be done above all else consistently?

Gratitude For The Familiar

“Familiarity breeds contempt.” – Socrates

Think about that quote.  It is pretty human.  Teens seek favor with strangers and marginalize their families who love them.  A new friend seems to have more allure than an old friend.  Winning a new prospect becomes a fixation rather than servicing your current customers.

When you become familiar and contempt replaces regard, it’s a statement more about you than anything else.  It can arise from:

  • Self-absorption: You can’t acknowledge value
  • Ingratitude: You aren’t thankful
  • Materialism: What people offer is more important than who they are
  • Boredom: You are always looking for something more
  • Stupidity: Burning bridges is a habit

There are more reasons for sure.  Whatever they may be, it makes for bad business.

There are familiar people that have created your success.  Parents, mentors, customers, vendors, spouses, employees, employers, and competitors are part of the world which works to drive you towards higher levels of success.  In your familiarity, try a new business practice.  Show gratitude and value those close to you rather than continually chase after greener pastures in other relationships.  Take action and do something which shows you care and don’t take them for granted.  In this season of Thanksgiving, they are, after all, what constitutes your present and future.  Be kind and take care of the familiar.  It holds the key to your opportunities.  I would love to hear who you are grateful for that is familiar.  Share your comments.