The old joke goes like this:
A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road.
The Chicken says: "Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!"
Pig replies: "Hmm, maybe. What would we call it?"
The Chicken responds: "How about 'Ham-n-Eggs'?"
The Pig thinks for a moment and says: "No thanks. I'd be committed, but you'd only be involved."
This joke is used a lot to describe the difference between participants in Agile Software development: Are you totally committed to the project? Or are you on the periphery and just stay informed on the process? I like to expand that into all employee relations.
Running a non-profit theater, we work whenever is necessary. Late nights, weekends (Weekends? What are those??) and odd hours. It's all part of the job. It also helps that I love my job (which counts for a lot since it is all-encompassing). When I spend an entire Sunday working at a student showcase, I might have a few thoughts in my head that wish I was somewhere else. Then I have a chance to see a student step on stage for the first time, and really do something outside their comfort zone. They go for the gold, and really stretch themselves to DO something scary. And you can see on their faces - they are fully committed.
So ask yourself, in each part of your job, are you fully committed? Or are you merely involved? And when the answer is you are just involved, ask yourself if that is something necessary for you specifically to be doing, or can it be delegated to someone else?
Being aware of what we are committing to will help you to do more, and stay focused.
When I speak to CEO's I get a lot of questions about reframing the idea of "Planning" and instead using the word "Preparing." I know that a 'Strategic Prepare' doesn't have quite the same ring as a 'Strategic Plan', and that is a shame. I do believe that the word 'Plan' sometimes sets people up for failure.
More often than not, plans have benchmarks that can fail: 'We will achieve goal X by this date.' When a company does not make those goals, the plan then becomes null and void, and people tend to say 'Well, this is no longer a useful plan....' This is why I encourage CEO's to use the idea of preparing rather than planning: If I prepare for the future, then whatever obstacles I encounter are a part of the next steps. There are no mistakes, and no reason to scrap the plan, just new information to add to the outcome.
One tool I have taught is in this process is the pre-mortem. It basically says that before any big action or implementation, you have a meeting to discuss its failure. The pretext is: It is now six months or one year in the future, and this has failed miserably. The question is: why? Why did it fail? What caused it to fail? What were the events leading up to its eventual demise? By looking at the possible reasons why something will fail, we can begin to be prepared for the issues that might affect its success. This can even go as far as life or death to some professions, as detailed in the book 'An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" by Col. Chris Hadfield. The years of planning, and simulations of what could go wrong in space, help to prepare astronauts to be ready regardless of what does happens. It also trains them to be ready when unforeseen events take place - and to treat them these events the same way as in the simulations they encountered. The level of preparation for space travel is intense - and necessary. It is never a straight path, or one way of accomplishing a task, and any unforeseen event could possibly cause something catastrophic.
So the next time you are seeing out a plan for the future, ask yourself what you are doing to prepare for the unforeseen events that could derail you: things that can make you head in new directions, and help you stop being reactive to issues, and instead be proactive to managing your desired outcome.
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