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4 Ways to Increase Your Execution (and Career) Velocity

Deidre Paknad  ::  Strategy & Execution

'Strategy execution is helping people make small choices in line with a big choice.' -Jeroen de Flander

The formula for achieving goals is straightforward: apply team, time and budget to the specific work needed to reach the right results. Very successful people achieve goals faster and with fewer resources than peers; their execution velocity is high, which raises their career velocity. Their capacity to execute is focused on achieving clear goals so they need less time or resources to get from point A to point B; great business and career results follow. Stellar team members gravitate toward these managers, so their teams — and results — get stronger over time.

Our capacity is almost always constrained, so how we manage that capacity is a crucial factor in goal achievement and it’s one of the biggest challenges managers face. Goals face intense competition from incoming emails and daily dramas, which tend to erase all memory of the original goals. Keeping people aligned and working toward the goal is hard, but losing even a day a week is a 20% capacity hit.

Without clear goals, operational transparency and capacity focused on goal achievement, even awesome teams end up moving the wrong mountain. These four disciplines can help increase your velocity to goal:

1. Know your Point B.

Make sure the team knows the specific goals and the metrics for success. Keep them present and visible day-to-day to counter rising environmental noise. With clear goals, people make better decisions and waste no time trying to figure out what matters. As importantly, they have a continuing understanding of how their efforts contribute to group achievement. Without that clarity, time and goodwill are lost redoing work and achievement is pure luck.

2. Know your Point A.

To define the actions and investments necessary to get from where you are to goal, be rigorous about operational transparency. While the goal shouldn’t move much, current state changes constantly. Set your transparency threshold by the cost of time — if losing five days will undermine goal achievement, then it’s too long to wait for execution facts. Tell your team that you value facts (even when they are not happy facts) and why those facts are essential to success. Real-time transparency maximizes your ability to recover quickly by optimizing your resources as facts change.

3. Concentrate resources on goal achievement.

When goals and current facts are opaque, the team’s capacity goes everywhere except goal achievement. Your velocity to goal is a function of how much friction and distraction there is on your path from point A to B. Make sure your full capacity is laser focused on goal achievement. Hold yourself and the team accountable for where time and effort are spent — these are your most valued assets. Deciding what not to work on is hard but necessary; use team meetings to rule out distractions and lower priority work so goals can be achieved.

4. Make transparency a constant.

Define dashboards for transparency on goals, actions, progress and team efforts then automate them so they don’t take time away from goal achievement. Most organizations can recoup 25% - 40% of people’s time by making goals and facts clear and eliminating endless status meetings and reporting. These resources and transparency improve velocity — in fact, they’re an opportunity to achieve goals with fewer resources and speed than peers. And because no member of the team enjoys status meetings, read outs and reworking bad decisions, stellar team members will gravitate to your team where they can spend more time doing great work, achieving goals and building their own career velocity.

While productivity often refers to doing more every minute, increasing velocity to goal means deciding where not to spend time and resources. You’ll cover the path to goal in less time and with less effort. It’s not more work, it’s just more achievement.

P.S. Workboard provides dashboards and transparency on goals, actions, progress and effort and automates status reporting. It enables everyone on the team to make better decisions, stay goal aligned and increase their velocity — it’s free for managers and their teams.

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