LeadershipTips

Transformation begins with small but mighty changes.

Start Small

PDSA can be used to test and measure system-wide improvements, however, it’s important to start with small fast tests when implementing PDSA. It’s helpful to focus on only one piece of the change rather than the entire implementation as you move through each round of testing. You can choose to run separate PDSA cycles simultaneously or sequentially depending on your desired outcome.

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Clear Language

The futuristic nature of an organization’s strategic plan can sometimes lead to ambiguous language and goals. Ensure statements like “Become the market leader” are replaced in the final version of the strategic plan with concrete statements like “Increase consumption of services by __ target customer.”

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Less is More

When creating a scorecard, it is important to remember less is more. What are the most important indicators of success for each strategic area? What are the few measures that will indicate progress? What are the 1-2 actions that will get us closer to the goal? Most of us are responsible for a substantial number of projects and tasks. We don’t put all of these responsibilities on our scorecard. The scorecard is a tool that keeps us focused on the few that matter most. This doesn’t mean we don’t tend to the others, but it does help us prioritize.

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Check in with Stakeholders

Schedule time each quarter to connect with a few external stakeholders. Ask for feedback and perceptions about the organization’s progress. Directly ask if there are any trends to which you should be paying close attention.

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Plus/Delta & Why

A plus/delta tool can also aid in reflective practice. When using this tool, it is important to ensure you capture WHY each factor is a plus or a delta. The why is critical in deciding the best next steps.

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Remember Why You Asked

Before you open your next results report, pause and remember why you asked for data in the first place. Whether it’s feedback or an audit, the larger goal is likely improvement. Keep this perspective as you open the file.

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A Fresh Take: Observe & Report

Conduct a Plus/Delta with the participants at the end of your next board or team meeting. Observe dynamics in the discussion, is every leader an active participant?

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Relate Don’t Compare

Look across industries for benchmark data. Some of the greatest innovations and successes are inspired by businesses doing completely different work.

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Achievable Does Not Mean Easy

Unachievable goals have the potential to deflate and demotivate teams when time runs out and the target is not reached. Keep your team motivated and success realistically incremental by setting challenging, but achievable goals.

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Create Goal Champions

Identify an executive champion for each organizational goal. That leader works with the team to break the goal into smaller chunks and each person takes responsibility for part of the goal. On a weekly basis, talk about actions each person is taking to achieve the goal and celebrate milestones accomplished.

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Establish a Clear Objective

Focus groups can be led by individuals inside the organization or by external facilitators. For either approach, it is critically important for the facilitator to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the focus group. Knowing the objective will help the facilitator ask probing questions during the session and provide insight after the session. Before your next focus group, connect with the facilitator about the purpose and questions to be asked during the session.

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Use Top Box and Rank Ordering to Improve

When paired with survey item means, top box information becomes even more valuable for goal-setting. During your next results review, consider rank ordering survey items by mean and by top box percentage. Arranging data this way provides additional guidance as leaders determine improvement priorities.

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Stay Organized with Plus/Delta

The plus/delta tool is an effective way to keep feedback organized. As electronic file sharing continues to be a positive trend in organizations, consider leveraging electronic tools for feedback gathering. Teams might use a shared plus/delta document to collect feedback about wins and challenges, if a particular process is ongoing. The notes made on the plus/delta can then be examined at each team meeting.

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What’s a Win?

As teams set out to achieve new goals, meet and define what will determine positive progress is being made towards the goals. What does success look like? How can we recognize the individuals responsible for each piece of the project? Intentionally design opportunities to celebrate wins into your next or current project.

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Reduce Stress by Improving Processes

As new technology becomes rapidly introduced, it’s a good idea to revisit processes you use to execute your daily work. Analyze which tasks take you the most time, or cause you the most stress, and look for ways to improve the process for greater efficiency.

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What Have You Accomplished?

Create a list of your accomplishments since you’ve begun your career. What awards or recognition have you received? What impactful results have you reached? Use numbers and analytics to show impact when applicable.

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Measure to Provide Unmistakable Value

To illustrate to teams the value of their service, it’s critical to measure progress, gather feedback and share that information with employees and customers. Having conversations about those numbers will enable you to identify opportunities for improvement. These conversations facilitate how to get better at providing stakeholders with unmistakable value.

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From Employee Engagement Surveys to Action

After the employee engagement survey results are calculated, gather your team and talk about the results. What ideas does the team have for improving the lowest items? What items are most important to them? After you’ve recorded their priorities, develop an action plan to present to the team. When leaders are transparent with their action plans, teams know their leader is committed to increasing their engagement levels.

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Less Can Be More

Employees often cite ‘poor communication’ as a workplace barrier. This doesn’t mean that they want MORE communication. They are looking for clear, quality communication that provides them with feedback and direction. Think about how many emails or messages you send, calls you make, and meetings you hold each week. Are they all really necessary and is the purpose clear? How can you reduce the quantity while increasing the quality of those communications?

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Tell Stakeholders What they Want to Know

What is important to the organization’s stakeholders? Do you gather feedback from the stakeholders (the physical community that surrounds the organization, its investors, its customers, anyone that benefits from the service it provides)? Analyze stakeholder feedback to develop a plan to communicate openly with stakeholders based on the information they want to hear. Stakeholders want honest updates from the source.

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From Strategy to Action

Are the organization’s broad goals converted into measurable annual goals? What actions are necessary to accomplish those annual goals? Who owns those actions? Setting and communicating defined annual goals as an executive leader is a vital first step to achieve organization-wide alignment. Team leaders can then determine what quarterly priorities will define success and which of their team members will be responsible for taking action. Progress and results are reported back to the executive leader in relation to the annual plan.

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Develop with Specific Goals

Prepare a plan with an aspiring leader this week. It’s recommended for the professional development plan to include goals, objectives to meet those goals, criteria for completion, and a timeline. Using specific, measurable goals, rather than vague goals like “improve communication,” we can better track progress and identify areas with further development needs.

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SMART Goal Audit

Conduct a SMART goal audit to confirm the alignment of goals with organizational strategy and leadership expectations. Starting with your goal statement, identify the specific action verb. Next, describe the unit of measure and the data source. Then, determine how you know the goal is achievable, yet challenging. Do you have a baseline for evidence? Identify the strategic priority the goal is aligned to and the time frame for completion.

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The Right Data

Collecting data has a specific purpose. The type of data collected and the tool used for collection is determined by the issue, problem, or challenge to be addressed. Start by identifying one goal that the team or organization wants to achieve. What data is needed to understand the current state, set a challenging goal, and measure the progress? Collecting the right data and using it for improvement is essential to increasing performance.

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Reflect on Values

What does your organization value? How do you role-model one of the values? How do those you work with role-model this value? How can your organization strengthen its commitment to living out the values?

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Strategy Sessions Rely on Data

It is most effective to schedule a strategy meeting after data needed to inform the work are available. We use data that informs progress toward the goal to make a judgement about how well we are executing strategic actions to accomplish the goal.

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Transparency Changes Results

Make your stakeholders aware of the current status and the future target of your organization. Be honest and transparent to change your results. After meeting, ask stakeholders to fill out a survey or other form of written feedback.

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Observe and Learn

To improve the performance of your team, observe and review behaviors of low performing teams as well as those of high performing teams. By observing low performing teams you learn what not to do.

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Lower Your Talking Time

Value your listening and reading time at roughly 10 times your talking time on the road to continuous learning and self-improvement. Estimate how much time you spend talking each day and set a goal to lower that number.

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