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Leadership Lesson #11: Leave Nothing to Chance

by George Virtue, CPA, CA, Managing Partner

The Clifton Strength Finder Survey, which determines a person’s top five strengths, identifies that I have two particular strengths: Ideation and Activation. Apparently, I am good at coming up with ideas to develop creative solutions to problems and getting things going. In this day of rapid change, one might think that these are ideal strengths to possess. Unfortunately, I often am unable to capitalize on this strength because of two key strengths that I do NOT have: Arranger and Discipline. As a result, many of my great ideas do not survive; they suffer from a disease called “failure to implement”.

Failure to implement great ideas has nothing to do with intentions – the problem is that we leave implementation to chance. Sam Allred at Upstream Academy helped me understand that knowing the solution is not good enough – we must “leave nothing to chance” if we are to turn our idea into action.

So, what does it mean to leave nothing to chance?  Would you “wing it” and hope for the best when you are planning a wedding, building a house or embarking on the fishing trip of a lifetime?  If it is the last one, I certainly hope not!  Every idea you wish to implement must be subjected to the same rigor as would be expected with one of these significant undertakings. Here is what I mean by leaving nothing to chance:

  • Start with a written plan – yes it must be in writing. Include a clear description of the problem you are trying to solve. Identify the benefits of successful implementation. Anticipate the challenges and articulate them in your plan. Ensure your plan has every step identified with clear timeframes and responsibility. We need to document WHY we are doing this and WHO will do WHAT by WHEN.
  • Review your plan with others and be open to challenge. The worst thing that we can do is to defend a poor plan.
  • Clearly communicate expectations to everyone who will be involved in the execution of the plan and make sure that they understand our “WHY”.
  • Set a reasonable, yet challenging, time frame for completion. The MindShop International 8-Week Team Cycle is a great example of a structured process where outcomes are established for each week leading to completion after no more than 8 weeks.
  • Assign responsibility, monitor performance, recognize progress, celebrate successes along the way and be willing to readjust the sails when necessary.

Does this sound like a lot of work? Does this sound tedious? Isn’t it more fun just to focus on the great idea? Perhaps. But if we want to ensure that those great ideas to into impactful action, we must leave nothing to chance.

And yes, I have been successful in implementing a few of my great ideas. I have been fortunate to have an exceptional Chief Operating Officer by my side who just happens to have two key strengths: Arranger and Discipline!

Good luck turning your great ideas into action!

Click here to read Leadership Lesson #10: Recognition is More Valuable than Money
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #9: Communicate Often and With Clarity
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #8: Learn to Listen
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #7: Delegate - But Do it Right 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #6: Understand the Power of Conflict 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #5: Build a Real Team 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #4: Choose Your Culture 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #3: Figure Out Where You Want to Go and How You Will Get There 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #2: Make Sure that Everyone (Including You) is Doing the Right Job 
Click here to read Leadership Lesson #1: Get the Right People on the Team

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