My One Thing: Creating Alignment in Our Lives

How You Can Create Alignment Between Your Personal and Professional Lives, and Create a Life Part 2

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Alright in the last entry, My One Thing: Creating Alignment in Our Lives, we discussed vision and goal-setting. And, in this entry, we will discuss.

  • Creating Objectives
  • Creating Priorities
  • Creating Next Actions
  • Results and Metrics
  • A Single System

Of course, both objectives and priorities, must be connected to your goals, and vision, so we’ll also take a look at how to connect them all.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

First, let’s use a goal that is actually part of my work today. A very practical example. Here we go.

  1. Increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years.

Alright, we’ve got a goal set. Now, let’s discuss objectives.

Creating Objectives

Where goals can be set for long-term planning, and short-term planning, in the context of this conversation we are using a long-term goal.

Our focus then is to go from our long-term goal to day-to-day activities that will connect back to our long-term goal. Creating objectives can help us do that by breaking our goal up into smaller pieces, which we can achieve in a shorter period of time.

Let’s take a look at an objective for our goal.

  1. Create a noncredit consortium, which includes representatives from each organization that delivers noncredit education throughout the state of Oregon in the next year.

There we go.

Because our goal is to increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years, we need an objective that will, well, basically, help us get there.

In this example, creating a consortium within the next year can do just that.

Alright, now we’ve got a 2-year goal, a 1-year objective, now we need some priorities.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Creating Priorities

Priorities are typically set for a shorter duration of time. They can be set for a day, week, month, and even a quarter. Alright, let’s create some priorities for our objective.

  • Priority #1 – Create bylaws for the non credit consortium in quarter 3
  • Priority #2 – Create a leadership structure for the noncredit consortium in quarter 4.

It is possible in this example, that both of these priorities can be achieved within quarter 3, however, to illustrate the example, I’ve chosen to spread them out.

The important point is that we now have a goal, objective, and priorities that are all connected. And, they all have timeframes allocated to them, so we know if we are on or off track. Important.

Once priorities are created, it is time to create next actions.

Creating Next Actions

Creating next actions, or action items, or next steps, is really about identifying the work that needs to be accomplished to meet your priorities, which then means, yep, that you are meeting your objective, and moving closer to attaining your goal.

Let’s create some next actions.

  1. Identify bylaws needed and begin to create them in the January meeting.
  2. Identify 2 or 3 committee members that will continue to work on the bylaws in between the January and February meeting.
  3. Create agreement and alignment on the bylaw next actions, which are due by the February meeting.

There we go.

Now, you’ll notice that I did not create the next actions for priority number 2. The reason this is so, is that that priority is for quarter 4, and, as we complete the next actions to meet the number 1 priority, we will learn more.

Meaning, that the second priority might shift a little by the time we get to the end of quarter 3. Normal.

Recapping, we now have a 2-year goal, 1-year objective, a priority for quarter 3 with next actions, and a priority for quarter 4 with next actions still to be identified.

Before we get to the system part of our conversation, which, of course, is one of my favorite topics, let’s discuss results and metrics a little.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Results and Metrics

It’s important in all goal-setting activities, personal and professional, to identify a way to measure progress. The measurement can be quantitative or qualitative. Both are needed and necessary.

In our conversational example about the noncredit consortium, we can create a couple of ways to measure our progress. First let’s reset the goal. Here it is.

  • Goal – Increase connection, collaboration, and unification of noncredit organizations throughout the state of Oregon within the next 2 years.

Now, let’s set a result and a metric.

  1. Result – Increased service to all communities as an outcome of increased collaboration between the noncredit organizations.
    1. Metic – Total service numbers by organization.

We can even take a deeper dive with this result, by creating actually percent increases we expect, such as:

  1. Result – Service numbers increase by 10% in year 2.
    1. Metric – Total service numbers by organization.

Once you have your results and metrics, we need to think about how to gather the data to measure the metric. In this example, we would utilize the systems the various organizations use to gather their student service data.

Alright, we’ve now covered goals, objectives, priorities, next actions, and results and metrics. Let’s now take a look at how these components work together to create a single system.

A Single System

As you all know, I love white boards. And, yes, I’ve created two simple white boards to help us visualize the linear information provided in this post. Here we go.

Corvallis, Oregon 2021

In this first white board we can see I’ve used a relationship ecological system to display the connection between the self, team, organization, and community, and a vision, goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions.

They function the same way.

As we develop as a leader, we take in information from the team, organization, and community, and we give information back out the same way. It’s completely reciprocal and, well, quite lovely.

Similarly, when we create a vision, and set goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions, they inform each other. For instance, the vision informs the goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions. Just as our next actions will inform our upcoming priorities, objectives, goals, and the vision, as needed.

Pretty cool.

Okay, one more visual. Here we go.

Corvallis, Oregon 2021

In this simple illustration, we can see a similar pattern. The vision is the anchor, as the self is in a relationship system, and informs our goals, objectives, priorities, and next actions, which, in turn, informs our upcoming goals.

Wow, that was fun.

That concludes the second and last installment in My One Thing: Creating Alignment In Our Lives.

You can use these tools in your personal life, just as you can at work. The most important thing is to create a vision for your future self; and; to work towards the realization of that self by taking actions each day that align with the self you see yourself becoming.

Remember, you are the only one that can make that future self a reality.

#creatingalignment, #goal-setting, #leadershipdevelopment, #metrics, #myonething, #nextactions, #objectives, #personaldevelopment, #priorities, #professionaldevelopment, #results, #systemsthinking, #visioning

The Big 5: Developing An Innovative Culture

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is javier-trueba-vfjnewjaa2g-unsplash.jpg
Photo by javier trueba on Unsplash

When I worked as a District Sales Leader at Frito-Lay, the company had an operating system for their sales teams, known as the Big 3, which consisted of the following.

  1. 1W1’s
  2. Monthly Team Meetings
  3. Ride-Alongs

I have no idea if the Big 3 is still in place, however, I do know that the system worked well. Why? There are 5 reasons. Ready? Let’s go.

  1. Establish Trust
  2. Create Alignment
  3. Develop Balance
  4. Build Collaboration
  5. Institute Accountability

Little did I know then, that these five outputs would actually show up in a different way 20 years later. Yep. How?

They showed up as important to developing and building an innovative culture. A culture grounded in trust, alignment, balance, collaboration, and, yep, accountability. The outcome? Innovation.

Alright, let’s now call these, just for fun, the Big 5. What, then, do we get when we instill the Big 5 into our teams, businesses, and organizations? A culture where innovation can thrive.

Implementing the Big 5 into your team is about developing culture. As your culture develops, you can then wrap processes and systems around that culture.

You may be wondering about developing systems first, then culture. I would advise against it. Why? Culture matters more. Simple.

Alright, let’s take a look at the Big 5.

Photo by NONRESIDENT on Unsplash

1. Establish Trust

I’ve written about establishing trust a couple of times. In 3 Steps and 9 Keys to Creating Safety on a Team in 5 Minutes, I write about 9 keys to creating safety on teams. And, inside of creating safety is establishing trust. Very important.

Establishing trust must come before people will feel safe. If people do not feel safe, they will hold back. Makes perfect sense. However, when there is trust, people will give all that they have, and they will also be vulnerable, try new things, go out on limbs; and, that is where innovation lives.

When there is trust between you and the team, and between each team member, you have an opportunity to create outputs and outcomes that have never been seen before. Why?

Because trust + safety + vulnerability = innovation.

Once trust and safety are in place, creating alignment is next. Creating alignment can take time. It took the team I currently work on over 2 years to create alignment. Year 1 was creating trust and safety. Year 2, creating alignment.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

2. Create Alignment

Alignment takes time. Really. It is normal for teams to move in different directions at the beginning. If you are unsure about this truth, that’s okay.

You can implement systems and processes upfront to ensure creating alignment quickly. However, as was aforementioned, creating those systems and processes early will also create a barrier to innovation. Why?

Because innovation thrives in an open environment where all the answers are not figured out. Though this can be stressful, know inside of an innovative environment, where safety, trust and vulnerability thrive, systems and processes will come.

Alignment comes when a vision is cast and strategy is created to tie the day-day operations to that vision. Each person on a team has a role to play in the execution of a vision.

When you get clear on everyone’s role and responsibilities, you are ready to create alignment between the vision and the day-to-day operations.

Here is how it looks linearly.

  1. Create a 10-year vision
  2. Create a 5-year vision
  3. Create a 3-year plan
  4. Create this year’s objectives
  5. Create 90-day priorities
  6. Create work of the month
  7. Create work of the week
  8. Create work of the day

Though that list looks long, it really isn’t that much, though it does take time. There is a very good resource for creating this kind of vision system, it is called Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman. I highly recommend it to all leaders in all organizations.

Alright, now that you’ve established trust and created alignment, the next step is to develop balance. Sounds simple. Yet, developing balance takes practice. Let’s take a look.

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

3. Develop Balance

As a leader, should you focus more on culture, or more on performance? Hm. Both are important. I like to think about culture and performance, like a see saw. Focus going back and forth. Sometimes, culture takes precedent, and sometimes, performance.

However, you must have both.

If you have a strong culture, and performance issues, you are not moving forward. If you have excellent performance metrics, and no culture, people will burn out and leave.

Developing a balanced approach to culture and performance takes practice, and an open mind. Meaning that when people bring you intelligence that a shift towards culture, or towards performance is needed, be open to shifting focus. Important.

In an open environment where trust and alignment have been created, the team will let you know. Really, they will. However, you still need to pay close attention to the team, and each individual on the team.

Like anything, developing balance takes time, and practice. You will know when you stray too far into one realm or the other. You can feel it when a team is not moving, or is moving too much. Watch, listen, and feel.

Collaboration is another important component to build in the journey towards creating an innovative culture. Some might say it is one of the most important.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

4. Build Collaboration

Why is collaboration so important? Well, to develop an innovative culture, building collaboration is a must. On teams where trust, alignment, and balance have been instituted, vulnerability will also typically be present.

And, being vulnerable with each other in an environment where collaboration is high is a natural breeding ground for innovation. Why?

Because where vulnerability meets collaboration is an open space ready for innovation to occur.

Actually, where vulnerability meets collaboration is where innovation is already happening. Really, it is.

Innovation needs spaces that are open, collaborative, and safe. Further, alignment and balance also help create innovative spaces. Though we’ve already discussed these two, there are two more reasons that showcase just how true the last sentence is.

  1. Because when your team is aligned, you are all on the same page, moving in the same direction. You are one.
  2. Because when there is balance, you also have balance with innovation. For instance, if all you do is innovate, then nothing will move forward. Similarly if all you do is execute, then innovation will founder. You need both. Both innovation and execution. A must.

Alright, now, let’s talk about accountability.

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

5. Institute Accountability

You may be asking yourself right now, what in the world does accountability have to do with innovation? Well, a lot actually. Let’s go.

Fostering an innovative culture, which also executes is imperative to actually creating newness in the world. You have to develop both sides of the equation. Similar to developing balance. And, how do you instill accountability into your culture? It starts with you.

You must practice accountability. Holding yourself accountable, first. You must also be open to the team holding you accountable. Accountable for what, you ask? For what you say and do. Integrity.

Developing an innovative culture means that each individual, starting with the leader, holds themselves accountable for the actions they take, and sometimes, don’t take.

The same goes with the team. When each individual holds themselves to the culture of innovation that you are developing, the team is also simultaneously held accountable. And, when people don’t perform?

Well, you must understand why. If it is a skill issue, offer them the opportunity to develop, to grow. If they are interested, great. If not, well, that is their choice.

If it is will. Then they also have a choice.

Bottom line. Developing an innovative culture means that accountability is taken seriously. As seriously as having fun, growing together, learning from each other, and innovating new products and services. Same.

Alright, that’s the Big 5 of developing an innovative culture. Fun. And, guess what? You can develop an innovative culture anytime. Really. How? Well, like all things, one step, or action at a time.

What will you develop next?

#buildingbalance, #businessinnovation, #creatingalignment, #creatinginnovation, #creatingsafety, #developingbalance, #establishingtrust, #innovativeleadership, #institutingaccountability, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipessentials, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipinpractice, #leadershipmindset, #leadershippractice, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipvalues, #organizationaldevelopment, #organizationalinnovation, #teamdevelopment