From Reactive to Proactive

 

 

 

 

ID-10071284We are so often caught up in the reactive, and it is an inevitable part of life and business.  There is too much data to be able to anticipate all of it coming at us.  So how do we make a transition from reactive to preemptive?

Know the Destination

You can’t go somewhere unless you know where you are going.  Simple, I know.  But do you jump in your car to go somewhere without having a destination in mind?  Probably not.  So what does your professional destination look like?

Taking time to plan an endgame is necessary for a huge transition.  You need to be able to define success not only for you as a leader, but for the team as well so that there is a sense of momentum and, ultimately, accomplishment.

Set up Your Waypoints

Every flight plan has waypoints, intermediate destinations that help to set the overall course.  Your journey from Reactive to Proactive should have waypoints as well.  In Project Management they are called Milestones.

The purpose of the waypoint is to provide you with a series of connected destinations that help to ensure a safe path is set and that you are moving in the right direction.  You can choose your waypoints to be in units of time, percent completion, accomplishment of specific events, or even arrival of the destination for only a part of the entire vision (completing the journey for one product line before expanding to another).

Understand Your Compromises

It’s difficult to get everything you want.  By knowing where you need to compromise you allow yourself a safety that will prevent you and your team from being discouraged.  Know where you can balk and where you mustn’t in order to help ensure success.  Some areas cannot be compromised, define them.  Others can be sacrificial should circumstances require it, be ready to sacrifice.

Communicate Your Destination

Give others the vision you have.  Allow your team and your supporters to envision the destination with you.  Take every moment you have to describe your destination in detail.  Outline how it looks and give them the ability to see it with you.  This will make others hungry to help you succeed.

If I told you we were going on a road trip your first question would be, “Where to?”  If I simply said, “West,” that wouldn’t be very motivating.  If I said, “The beach,” that might be more motivating.  But if I took the time to describe the beach, how it looked at sunset, the warm breeze that blew on my face, the sound of the waves crashing on the nearby cliffs, and the long boardwalk the stretched over the water, you might be more excited about going there.

Invest in the Change

Change is a movement of inertia.  The organization has momentum in its current direction.  If you want to change that direction, you have to be willing to invest in the force required to overcome that inertia.  This investment may come in the form of additional people, a new technology, external support, rebranding and marketing, or a number of other things that will give you the force needed to change your momentum.

Celebrate the Change

I am a big fan of celebrations.  They can come in small forms of encouragement or lavish company parties.  The purpose is to keep people motivated.  Once you have gained a little momentum in the new direction you have to keep pushing.  Celebrations as simple as a pat on the back can help to accelerate your change.

The Challenge

If you are in the midst of a change, look at your flight plan.  Do you know the destination?  Do you have your waypoints?  Do you know where you may have to make compromises?  Have you visualized your destination and shared that with others?  Have you made the proper investments?

If not, take the time to figure it out.

Do you see a need for moving from reactive to proactive in your business, in your life?  Start today with planning on how to get to your destination.

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Finding Your Way

 

map

We all need a map (yes fellas, even you).  Maps are tools to navigate in areas that are unfamiliar.  They hold immense amounts of information in very simple forms.  Maps help us to remember where we have been and how to get to where we are going. 

We navigate in unfamiliar media every day.   The trick is to know how to make a map when there isn’t one around.  Below are some basic ideas on how to make a map of a project, a development plan, or a strategy.  Let me know your thoughts.

  1. Start with an idea.  Vague is okay when starting the process.  You may not know where you will end up, but have an idea of the outcome.
  2. Lay down the rough lines.  Outlining is useful and so is creating nested topics.  If working a project, think about significant milestones that have to happen to reach the end.
  3. Start to fill in the detail.  This step is progressive and iterative.  Once you start filling in details you will have to refine other parts of your map and revise.  This leads to more detail.
  4. Think of different ways to deliver information.  Maps use symbols, lines, numbers, legends, etc.  Think of how you might incorporate the same into your map.  Using different colors or thicker lines to demonstrate impact or size is a simple way to add information (large cities have a different symbol and are usually in bold type on a map).
  5. Proofread.  Have someone else try to navigate using your map.  That is the ultimate test.  Can he get from here to there?  This is useful for strategies, procedures, presentations.
  6. Make it easy to read.  You don’t want people to have to stare at your map for days before they know how to use it.  But don’t forget that people need to be trained on how to read maps.  You didn’t know how to use a map before you were taught and you probably haven’t seen a map like the picture above unless you are a pilot.

Maps can be graphical, linear, or simply post-it notes on a wall with string.  It’s about organizing the information and making it available to others.  These are skills any leader or project manager must have to be successful.

How have you used maps in your life?