Anyone who has ever tried to build a strategic plan learns how quickly goals and tactics change. The business environment, the dynamics of the team, the needs of customers, and the influence of stakeholders are always shifting. A single-use plan becomes obsolete long before it can be executed. If you embrace the endlessness of the exercise, you never stop designing the future.
Teams committed to continuous improvement begin with 10 ground rules:
- Reach higher than today’s circumstances allow.
- Adopt a problem-solution mentality and let the solutions trigger new problems.
- Invite every voice to the conversation.
- Embrace fearless experimentation where failures get you closer to success.
- Reject complacency and resist the urge to celebrate.
- Use the power of an accountability culture to keep everything moving forward.
- Understand why teams get stuck (e.g. misalignment, broken trust, fear, depletion) and address the obstacle promptly (e.g. recalibrate goals, create psychological safety, leverage differences, take smart risks, recharge resources).
- Stick to a cadence of activity so movement is visible, and the team embraces change as a norm.
- Share discovery generously by speaking, publishing, teaching, mentoring, and investing in the next generation of visionaries.
- Refresh the cycle of problem identification, research, discovery, invention, innovation, and improvement:
- Problem Identification: An impasse or an obstacle creates the need for which there is not yet a clear solution.
- Research: Investigation unfolds to determine current best practice or the need for a different approach.
- Discovery: Exploration and experimentation inevitably lead to new opportunities.
- Invention: Fresh ideas are proposed for testing and implementation.
- Innovation: Theory finds application and insights become action.
- Improvement: A seemingly unsolvable problem is addressed resulting in a better mousetrap, a cure for cancer, or drastic enhancements in efficiency and productivity.
Team wellness is a prerequisite for implementing these ground rules. Groups mired in toxic team politics don’t have the energy to sustain this kind of stewardship. Most of their resources are being misdirected to managing broken culture. Once everyone is committed to a healthy organization, the potential for perpetual change is unleashed.