The skill we need to master for Intentional Anything is progress. How do we stop talking about it? I was in a sales meeting the other day and the company was planning a networking event at their office. They had been talking about it for months but while the idea was getting play, there was no substantive progress. Why, I asked? The reply was that they needed to get the invite list together and to do that they needed to have a meeting to discuss how they would gather and who would do what. And, I asked, how would that be progress?
Progress would be to start the list. Period. What would allow that work to begin is an understanding and acceptance that the list will never be perfect or complete. Shoot for 80% if you are perfectionist. But you could also start with the outcome in mind. If you want 100 people to show up, you need to invite 1000.
While folks pondered that challenge, we quickly designed the invitation, set the hours, outlined key attractions, and chose a menu. Plus, we assigned responsibilities for all of these items on the spot.
The key to Intentional Progress is to choose to do one of many things. It often doesn’t matter which one. If it is a team project, then divide the things you know you need to do amongst yourselves and go start. Get back together in two hours or less and compare notes.
We moved this project forward by sending everyone to go back to their desks and gather 25-50 names of contacts that they really want to attend, plus an estimate of how long it would take to go through their entire contact list. By end of the day, four employees came up with 250 high-value names and estimated on the average that they would each need another two hours to complete the list. By end of the week, 600 invites went out and in the end, 65 valued contacts attended the event.
The real lesson here isn’t about understanding what to do – most of us can figure that out. The takeaway is the importance of leadership in driving intentional progress. Nothing gets done quickly by consensus. Someone needs to own the project and manage expectations. My role was to demonstrate how that could be done. Now, the Director of Sales knows what her role looks like in these situations. I can’t wait for the next project because I know she will take charge and move the team forward.