Late November is the time when many of us are reflecting on our progress for the year and updating our stakeholders.
This can be fraught, particularly in an increasingly cost-constrained environment. Many recent working session stories have had a cost theme, as have many of the stories I have been working on with my corporate clients.
In that light I wanted to share one critical idea to focus on when preparing your next progress report.
Prioritising impact over activity is ever more important in these increasingly cost-constrained times. Let me explain what I mean.
Saying ‘we have been busy' is rarely enough. Providing a list of things you and your team have completed over the past period is the easy way out and only marginally useful. Even when the list is well-grouped, it is rarely insightful. It can also be overwhelming and just says ‘we have been busy'.
I once worked with the head of projects at a global car company and she asked me why her CFO never responded to the weekly update email he requested.
When I reviewed it I could see why.
She had listed literally 100 project tasks that had been worked on, categorised by area, without offering any insight as to how these linked to the overall objectives.
Saying ‘we are on track' is better. This at least offers stakeholders comfort to know that they have nothing to worry about. This can be sufficient, but is not always so, especially in times of heightened attention to costs.
Saying ‘we have delivered X impact' is better still. You might describe each activity you have completed alongside the impact it has delivered. It doesn't require a major shift in substance, still enables you to describe the work accomplished but is clear about the impact delivered.
Explaining how your team could deliver more impact is best. This requires you to take a step back and look for opportunities to optimise your ways of working within your area as well stepping outside that area to focus on your purpose.
If you reflect on the reason why your program of work exists and ask whether your priorities and activities are still the best way to achieve that goal, you may find some gems.
Even though this can be difficult and perhaps feel risky, it demonstrates that your commitment is in line with delivering maximum returns rather than just ‘doing work'.
I hope that helps. More next week.
Thinking Skills Workshop
Learn how to connect the dots between complex ideas so you can prepare insightful and engaging communication.
In this 2-hour workshop I introduce the core thinking skills that underpin our ability to deliver insight rather than just ‘information'. During this interactive workshop you will
- Learn the basis for structuring a compelling business story
- Practice three core thinking skills that will set your communication apart from others
- Leverage our seven most-commonly used story structuring patterns
- Work in a small group to rework a short prose communication
Only 20 places are offered to allow me to answer everyone's questions.
PRESENTED BY DAVINA STANLEY
I love what I do.
I help senior leaders and their teams prepare high-quality papers and presentations in a fraction of the time.
This involves 'nailing' the message that will quickly engage decision makers in the required outcome.
I leverage 25+ years' experience including
- learning structured thinking techniques at McKinsey in Hong Kong in the mid 1990s before coaching and training their teams globally as a freelancer for a further 15 years
- being approved to teach the Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto in 2009
- helping CEOs, C-suite leaders and their reports deeply understand their stakeholder needs and communicate accordingly
- seeing leaders cut the number of times they review major papers by ~30% and teams cut the amount of time they take to prepare major papers by ~20%*
- watching senior meetings focus on substantive discussions and better decisions rather than trying to clarify the issue
My approach helps anyone who needs to engage senior leaders and Boards.
Recent clients include 7Eleven, KPMG, Mercer, Meta, Woolworths.
Learn more at www.clarityfirstprogram.com
(*) Numbers are based on 2023 client benchmarking results.