Momentum For Success – It Takes More Than Motion

Running on a treadmill is useful when the weather is cold and you’ve got nowhere else to go. But when it comes to moving a business or project forward, the last place you want to be is on a treadmill- working but not moving. In business, this stagnant movement can happen when there is a desired outcome or goal but with all the activity, there is no change, no momentum, and no results showing progress. Like a treadmill, this may be sustainable for the short term, but eventually it feels like you’re just running in place. The path from point A to point B is rarely clear, easy, and without roadblocks. There are always challenges and unexpected delays. While these particular issues are unavoidable, having a clear plan with clear goals and clear expectations can keep those unforeseen challenges from turning into major roadblocks. To keep up momentum with new projects or initiatives, there are three major contributing factors for success: resources, planning, and execution. The best ideas will become as immobile as a treadmill if one of these three elements is missing.

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Resources. Without resources, no one is going anywhere. Even if you’re goal is to run without moving, you still need that treadmill. Resources don’t automatically equate to money- directly. Generally speaking, a new resource could be anything from an infusion of funding, to a fresh perspective, to people who have a different processes for working to reach goals. The need for new resources is an opportunity to look beyond your immediate department and benefit from different perspectives or best practices that can be carried over to other groups. In many cases, these resources, especially the human ones, may already exist within your organization. A common resource driven mistake is when people who are already maxed out from their regular jobs are expected to take on the task of overseeing an additional project that is tied to their day to day job. This is where an impartial, but effective, additional person is needed to oversee. In this case, the resource already exists, is familiar with the parties involved in the project, has a perspective different from everyone else involved, but doesn’t require the investment of hiring a new person.

Planning. This particular step has so many details that it’s an easy one to find yourself working through several times. Not only does it require timelines, collaboration, and a mapping process but it also requires details; and details are easy to overlook and easily dismissed. But when they are not, and they are the core of planning, they can become the part of a project and process that is remembered and modeled for future implementations. Planning not only involves an implementation process, but also provides a mechanism for communication through and across an organization. Those who will benefit from the project will need to know what to expect and when, so sharing plans for change, and planning every step, will automatically contribute to communication. Planning for how you expect to reach your goals is as important as actually reaching them because a flawed process plan can burn people out and while it will ultimately result in an “end product”, it may not match the original goal. Yes, goals can change, but we always think it’s better to have that change driven by the people working on the project rather than it be the result of poor process or poor planning.

Execution. This is key because with all the resources and all the planning, even the best initiatives can die on the vine if they are not executed well. Ideas and programs don’t bring themselves to fruition, they need people to carry them out to finish. There are two important components related to successful execution: when and how. The timing of when a new plan or process or tool is executed, can contribute to its long term success. For example, there is a new software that can cut your order processing time in half. If your busy season is in spring, then even if it would be helpful, that is not the time to try to implement and learn new software. It’s better to get through the busy time with the workflow people already know and then give them more time to learn the new software in preparation for the next busy season. Additionally, the way in which that new software is implemented is important because the sooner its value can be understood and used, the better. Practical applications and consistency are important in learning anything new, and how that is demonstrated through training and implementation will be a driver for success. Without it, people become frustrated, distrusting of the new thing, and then morale is negatively affected and will spread quickly through an organization. The result is a failed opportunity.

When it’s time to implement a new process, new product, or new workflow the need for keeping things moving forward from idea to implementation is incredibly important. While only three key ingredients for success are mentioned here, the reality is that each opportunity will bring with it several challenges and having the right tools at your disposal is part of the foundation for success. Even if your goal is just to keep your muscles limber in winter, a treadmill can help, but it’s only part of what will you will need to run a marathon.