By: Gordon Tredgold, CEO & Managing Consultant, Leadership Principles LLC
Gordon Tredgold is our guest blogger this week. He is a Global Gurus Top 10 Leadership Expert and Speaker. To learn more about Gordon, click this link to visit his website.
There is no such thing as failure, only feedback, and it's what we do with that feedback that determines how successful we will ultimately be.
When we fail, we have three options:
Early in my career, I had many failures, the worst being a $50k project I was involved in that we delivered for just over $5m.
To say that the customer was unhappy would be an understatement.
I was mortified, and I became very passionate about avoiding failures. I start looking at them more closely to see if there were any patterns as to what was causing us to fail, which we could then look to mitigate and hopefully use to prevent future failure.
The more I investigated, the more obvious it became that all of our failures occurred for the same four reasons.
These were: we had the wrong focus, a lack of accountability, we'd made things overly complex, or we lacked transparency into what was needed and into our actual performance.
Interestingly as I started to study other failures, I found that these same root causes were also present. Using this feedback, I began to work on improving performance in all four of these areas.
Sharpening the Focus: to make sure we had clarity over our goals and what success looked like. When we have the wrong focus, it doesn't matter how hard or how long we will work; we will become frustrated and demotivated by our lack of progress.
Boosting Accountability: by clarifying roles, responsibilities, and expectations of that role. This helped to get people to take ownership and better understand what was needed from them.
Promoting Simplicity: looking to ensure we didn't follow our natural tendency to over-complicate things, keeping communication clear and straightforward to improve understanding. Without understanding, it leads to confusion and misunderstanding, which will then cause us to fail.
Lastly, increasing Transparency: making sure that by doing enough due diligence to ensure we knew what was fully involved in being successful, and having the proper tracking in place to monitor progress.
Projects are like icebergs; it's easy to see the third about the water, but the thirds below sink the ship. And suppose we lack transparency in our performance. In that case, we can fall into the happy under-achiever trap, where we think we are doing well and but in reality, we are falling short. By the time we realize this, it's too late; we become destined to be unhappy underachievers.
By taking this approach of improving Focus, Accountability, Simplicity, and Transparency, we have not only helped avoid failures; we have helped achieve significantly better results.
Focus and Accountability help improve effectiveness by ensuring we have the right people doing the right job, and Simplicity and Transparency help increase efficiency by making things easier and providing feedback on performance so we can see the impact of any changes we make. If you can improve both effectiveness and efficiency, you put yourself well and truly on the path to success.
Using this approach has helped me turn around failing projects, underperforming departments and deliver significant business benefits, such as $50m per annum in cost savings and operational performance improvements, increasing on-time delivery from 35 percent to 95 percent.
But none of this would have been possible if I hadn't had that big multi-million dollar failure that fired up my passion not to fail again.
There is no such thing as failure, only feedback, so how will you use this feedback to benefit you and your company?
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Kathy Kent Toney
I'm passionate about helping organizations grow profitably in ways they haven't imagined!