Success takes hard work. With a heavy workload, usually comes stress. Many times stress is good and boosts our energy levels, allowing us to get things done. Sometimes we let the stress take over and end up in a hyperactive state. It’s a state of chaos where we think we’re getting a lot done, but in fact, just end up going around in circles.
We’ve all been there, having a huge pile of “to-dos” on our table, trying to pick what to focus on next, ending up picking nothing and doing a little bit of everything, right?
To balance things out and get organized, we need sufficient rest to recharge. Previously, I wrote about local order being the key to a better night’s sleep. Local order is a method for leaders to achieve peace of mind and focus their energy on the most important. Local order consists of assumptions and guidelines brought down to a very practical level. They might not be absolutely correct, but they are good enough to guide you and simple enough to be easily revised and changed.
So how to create local order in practice? Here are the four basic tools, simple lists, we use to create our local order and boost leadership skills.
Tool 1: List of assumptions
The strategy of a company is always based on a set of facts and assumptions. For example, we know for a fact that crowdsourcing is a growing trend, and we assume that developing new crowdsourcing tools will make it an everyday practice for most companies in the near future.
Always separate assumptions from facts. The simple way to do this is to list the facts and especially the assumptions, which guide your strategy work. After drawing up the lists, it’s important to revise them frequently. If some of the facts or assumptions have changed, it’s time to reformulate the strategy.
A simple way to start putting together the information is to use e.g. Gartner reports backed up by Google search. Then combine the results with crowdsourcing, inviting at least the board members and key people, but preferably all employees, to contribute.
Tool 2: “Customers stay up at night” list
Do you know what your customers truly need? This is not the same as why they buy your product. Especially as in most cases, your sales people have absolutely no clue of why your customers buy.
We recommend you draw up a list of the top 5 items that keep your customers awake at night. If your value proposition doesn’t hit any of those items, you should rethink your core message or your customer segment.
Creating the list is simple, just ask: “What keeps you awake at night?”. If you use a traditional set of ten interviews and a customer survey, make sure the presumptions of the interviewer don’t bias the results.
Tool 3: Staff wish list
Your staff is your greatest asset. If you keep your mind and door open, the ideas and requests from your staff will guide you to the right path. Your main task as a leader is to help your employees to succeed in what they do. The key is to hear and answer their requests.
However, all staff members are individuals and there are two major pitfalls in collecting staff wishes.
- The loudest speakers among your staff will get their voices heard. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that the loudest voice is the majority voice. However, in most cases the majority has completely different needs and your task is to dig them out.
- The most obvious and trivial development ideas often come up easily but it’s more important to unveil the unexpected ones. Almost every crowdsourcing project we have run has produced great new insight or, rather, brought underlying shared needs to the surface. As soon as someone says them aloud, most share the same views, but haven’t been able to put them into words before.
Make sure you always have an up-to-date list of the things your staff requires from you in order to perform better. Also communicate effectively what you are going to do about their wishes, especially if, for some reason, you can’t fulfill the top ranking requests.
Tool 4: Strategy and to-do list
The tools presented above don’t replace a clear mission, vision, values and strategy but complement them. In most cases, strategy is too complex and fixed to be used in daily decision making and doesn’t really create local order for anyone, except maybe for the Board of Directors.
However, if you feel that your strategy doesn’t provide enough grounds for concrete actions, try something else. Try to crowdsource the answer to the following questions in the form of simple lists:
- What should we do next?
- What should we stop doing next?
Sometimes sharing the answers to these questions is enough to guide the decision making in your business.
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