Where Is Your Road Map Taking You?

Posted by amy.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

There is that nagging question that comes up every day, “What’s the PLAN?” It conjures up guilt and questions about ­self-worth. Plans come by many ­names—it could be called the strategy, it could be the plain old bud-get, or it could be called something exotic like “the Five Pillars to Success.” My favorite name is the ROAD MAP.

The world demands it. Your boss requires it. Your spouse wonders about it. You need a plan.

Those of you who take public transit to work are lucky. You are not clicking through the radio trying to understand where the traffic problems are every day. The rest of us probably spend too much time in the car, which raises the question, how do we use that time?

FM radio is okay but I am sick of most of the songs since I am stuck in my car listening to FM radio. Texting is never an option. Talk radio can be okay, but it seems too loud and shrill for the morning.Here is an idea: on the way to work, while in your car, plan your day. On the way home from work, reflect on the day. Each day, use that commute time a little more productively. It might help you be more effective and get a raise. And then, you can get a better car for commuting.

There will be lots of meetings in December where we plot out the plan for the new year. There will be flip charts and markers and yellow stickies and breakout groups and facilitators in conference rooms and hotels all over the country.

And the first topic of conversation over coffee and muffins will be, “Do we need a mission statement?”

The response will be, “No, I think we need a vision.”

And the third comment will be the question, “What is the difference between a vision and a mission?”

That discussion will go until lunchtime with no clear resolution.

Aaaargh.

The three things we all want to know at work are: what’s my job, how am I doing, and how does my effort make us more successful?

A little time on those questions might be more productive than a framed vision statement on the wall.

A roadmap should tell you how to get to where you want to go and the stops along the way. The corporate roadmap, of course, assumes you know where you are going, which is not always the case.

The problem with so many corporate roadmaps is that they are too complicated so no one pays any attention to them.

I think there is a lot to be learned from my favorite road ­map—the kids’ game Chutes and Ladders. Just like work, the game is all about rewards and consequences. With good deeds, you climb, and for misbehavior, you go down chutes. Plus, in the game, you know where you are and you can see the end.

Need a good road map? Just look in the toy bin, then implement it.

Three Sad Letters You Should Stay Away From In The Workplace

Posted by amy.

Acronyms have created a new language, and we all speak that new language. Some letter phrases are so widely held that we use them in speaking. Phrases like LOL, FYI, BTW are second nature.

Others are not as widely used, like @TEOTD (At the End of the Day) or YKWYCD (You Know What You Can Do), but even those are creeping into the language.

Each one captures a sentiment in a few letters that are both direct and efficient. And somehow the group of letters doesn’t seem as bad as the hack-neyed buzzwords. Twitter and the constant barrage of instant messages have helped create the new language. It is ever expanding and here to stay AFAIK (As Far As I Know).

But there is one rarely used three­-letter designation that can kill a career. Sometimes it is not used explicitly but it is always there, lurking in conference rooms and project plans. The worst three letters in business that can be assigned to your name are: D N F.

DNF stands for DID NOT FINISH. Anyone who ever enters a race knows those three unfortunate letters. Whether the race is running, swimming, bike riding, or Formula One racing, it doesn’t matter. When the results are posted, DNF next to your name means you started something but didn’t finish.

And in a race, just like any project, one either finishes or does not. Swimming halfway across the English Channel doesn’t count as swimming across the English Channel. It means DNF, Did Not Finish.

At the office, the DNF letters may not be placed next to any name. But the label exists. The DNF label means you start things and that is as far as you got.

It means you are good at thinking but not at doing. It probably means no one wants to work with you and it could mean you will be out of a job. You may think others don’t notice or that it is NBD (No Big Deal). It is a big deal and should be avoided.

Don’t be caught in the DNF box. It’s more important to tackle projects that you know you can finish than it is to start huge projects that everyone knows will never be completed. The BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) can be tempting but don’t make the goal so hairy that it will never be achieved.

Sometimes you don’t have a choice of assignments but always avoid the dreaded DNF label. Crossing the finish line is a very good feeling.

GFN (Gone for Now).

The Thing About Work

Posted by amy.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Lots of other phrases circulate through a workplace but most are not suitable for print. With so much going on in the workplace, why does the inability to get things done generate so much creativity in the catchphrase department? The answer is simple: FRUSTRATION. Nothing will make a team or an individual more frustrated than the sense of working on something that will never get implemented, that nothing will ever change.

Execution of a plan is the most difficult activity of any organization. Strategies and plans can be copied. Who cares? Effective implementation is the secret sauce in any organization, and requires discipline and hard deci-sions. It is so difficult because it requires changing behaviors, which most people don’t want to do. It requires changing out people­ — and it depends on which side of that change you are on, but most people don’t want to see change in this regard. It requires making difficult decisions that are by their nature tough to make. Implementation requires courage, which can be hard to come by in some leadership ranks.

Strategies are necessary. Plans are required. Goal setting is critical. Lists of things to do are important and necessary. But the success of any individual or organization is measured in what has been accomplished, not in what was planned.

I do know that where there is effective implementation, phrases are not necessary because results don’t require phrases. And people generally like their jobs more.

Be alert to the phrase du jour at work, it may tell you more than you think.