Your business is going to progress no matter what.
If you want to make progress intentional in your company, you need to choose the direction you want to go. Then, you need to be ready for change.
The question isn’t if your business will change in the future — I guarantee you it will. The real question is how will your business will change in the future.
I learned this in a different context when I took my family white water kayaking one summer. We soon realized that keeping the kayak in one place on a moving river is nearly impossible. There’s too much dynamic movement.
So, instead of fighting to stay still, the best approach was to pick an intentional place to go and then use the natural momentum around us to get there. We were going to move no matter what. We could move into a rock, the riverbank, or through a clear path in the rapids ahead. We chose to make intentional progress towards the path we wanted.
Intentional progress is about moving methodically. To be technical, it’s the systematic execution of tactics that move you towards your goals.
Tactics can be complicated. They involve understanding ownership, deadlines, deliverables, and resources associated with each step on your path forward.
But let’s keep intentional progress simple. If you’re ready to see intentional progress in your company, here are the six keys to unlocking it.
1. Focus on one thing at a time.
Intentional progress means focusing on one goal, tactic, or task at a time. This is why I usually end my posts, videos, and lectures with one essential question.
If you focus on one thing at a time, you’re more likely to act on it. If your attention is split, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll complete nothing. However, if you have only one task in front of you, you’re much more likely to actually do it.
2. Eliminate noise.
To better focus on one thing at a time, you need to spend energy identifying and eliminating proverbial noise.
Don’t let distractions, shiny objects, and side bars stop you from doing what needs to be done. It’s time to declutter, consolidate, and hone in on the main goal. Remove distractions so you can get back to focusing on that one thing.
3. Start with the second most important thing.
When we’re trying to make intentional progress, the top priority can be overwhelming. When this happens, choose to work on the second most important thing that needs to be done.
The most important goal is often multi-faceted — and no one task will get you there. If you move to the second priority, you can often complete it more easily. Then, you may end up doing a few more tasks that contribute to reaching the main goal.
If you’re hung up on what to do next, move down one notch to the second most important thing.
4. Give tasks one owner.
Managing a task isn’t a job for a team. Teamwork is great, but task management is a one-owner job. You need one person to own every task. Then, you need a team of people who can help them with that task.
Don’t co-lead teams and don’t co-own tasks. One person needs to take ownership of making sure the task is accomplished. Then, when there are difficulties, they’ll be able to explain why the task isn’t getting done and what needs to happen to move ahead.
5. Use meetings for reporting and assigning tasks.
Meetings are important if you use them to report on progress and set tasks. Meetings are not for exploring what issues need to be addressed.
Use meetings to ask, “What did we do? What needs to be done next?”
One of the outcomes may be that you need to have a meeting to explore more. If you separate exploration meetings from the task and reporting meetings, your life will be simpler. You’ll spend less time talking in circles, and more time getting things done.
6. Stop being perfect.
Understanding what’s “good enough” is probably the most important key to intentional progress.
Perfect is the enemy of good. We’ve heard it before, yet many of us let the idea of perfection keep us from doing good work. Don’t let perfect get in the way of success.
Pick your mantra:
- 80% is better than nothing.
- Done is better than perfect.
- Strive for progress, not perfection.
- Don’t let you want for perfection become procrastination.
Bottom line: When you stop trying to be perfect, you can actually focus on improving. You’ll be able to continually and intentionally progress towards the goals you’ve set.