My New Year's resolution this year is to be more “intentional.” Maybe it was the movie Click, where Adam Sandler stars as a harried workaholic in possession of a magical remote control that allows him to fast-forward through life. Or, maybe I'm starting to take the age old axiom that “those who fail to plan—plan to fail” to heart. When I think about what makes some of my heroes great, I have come to conclude that they intend to be great and that they plan to be great. But more important, they take steps to be great.
One author who has had a significant influence on me, John Maxwell, has written a book called Today Matters. In this book, Maxwell discusses how the little steps we take each day accumulate to become the distance traveled on the path to success.
So how do we become more intentional about quality and continuous improvement? I think the answer lies in consistently taking little steps in the right direction. This is something that I call "iterative improvement." Sometimes baby steps can be frustrating when one sees the big picture vision of everything that is possible; at other times it's gratifying when one notices how much ground has been covered.
Here are my thoughts about how to get started:
- Identify all your stakeholders.
- Determine what your stakeholders value.
- Devise a mini-project that will take no more than a week or two. Use a Plan-Do-Act-Check cycle. Make sure that your plan includes measurable improvements toward improving on how your organization meets one or more stakeholder values.
I've found that the busier a person is, the more intentional the person must become to make sure that the urgent does not crowd out the important. By making measurements along the way, you'll have a yardstick to measure progress.