By Kirsten Blakemore, MA CPCC, Sr. Consulting Partner at Partners In Leadership
Within a globalized economy increasingly dominated by an accelerated speed of change and a dog-eat-dog mentality surrounding technological innovation, businesses can easily fall behind an excess of possibility paired with a lack of direction. Corporate leaders may be overwhelmed by seemingly endless action items, countless digital tools available to augment operations, and a laundry list of organizational goals hampered by nebulous plans for execution.
In the midst of these high-stake circumstances, agile organizations have recognized -- and capitalized on -- the opportunity to "tidy up" their priorities.
Marie Kondo is the "tidying expert" whose #1 New York Times bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Netflix hit "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" have taken the world by storm. Paraphrasing the core philosophy of Kondo's KonMari Method, The New York Times' Pamela Green writes, "Discard everything that does not 'spark joy,' after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service."
While decluttering an attic or a garage may seem far different than homing in on organizational goals and executing them effectively, businesses can find immense value-adding potential in the principles of Kondo's methodology, which place "great importance on being mindful, introspective and forward-looking."
"Tidying up" desired organizational results does not mean you'll end up with less to show for your business. Instead, it pares away what is unnecessary, creating room for a set of principled, focused results to drive organizational growth and promote improved performance.
In fact, when organizational leaders decide to KonMari their business results, they become more mindful of their employees' unique needs and gifts, introspective about the factors that are impeding or aiding the organization in achieving its objectives, and forward-looking in their dedication to and accountability for achieving these objectives.
The KonMari Method can bolster your business results by creating improvement in the following key areas:
1. Focusing on End-Goals Every Step of the Way
The KonMari Method has a clear desired result, which is established from the beginning: creating deeper joy, or fulfillment. Organizing a space in accordance with this directive requires working toward this overhead goal at every step of the process: discarding that which does not bring joy, expressing gratitude for these things, and arranging things that do bring joy in an orderly fashion. Each of these steps demonstrate a singular focus on driving the desired result of creating deeper joy.
When this methodology translates to the business world, organizations operate with the same results-driving focus. Strategy without purpose, or clear desired results, cannot move the needle on a company's KPIs because, no matter how high-performing individual employees are in their daily tasks, teams without a clear focus cannot direct their collective energy toward the achievement of shared objectives.
Unfortunately, research indicates that most organizations suffer from a lack of transparency around topline objectives. In fact, according to the Partners in Leadership Workplace Accountability Study, which surveyed more than 40,000 respondents over two years, a staggering 85% of employees report that topline objectives are not clearly defined and comprehended throughout their organization.
It's the responsibility of leaders to establish their organization's Key Results -- its three to five meaningful, measurable, and memorable "must-deliver" objectives.
Defining Key Results and ensuring they are understood at every level of the organization is critical to increasing company-wide performance. This is because when leaders create clarity around shared goals, they generate greater focus and alignment while providing a critical sense of direction.
With a strong focus, every employee goes about their daily work with these results top-of-mind, which guides their attitudes and behaviors in the workplace. Each team member is then prepared to execute every task with a mindful focus on driving Key Results, thus accelerating their achievement.
2. Maximizing Organizational Accountability Through Simplicity
The KonMari Method champions simplicity, stressing that less is indeed more.
To this end, a focus on simplicity is key to maximizing organizational outcomes. Neither complex results nor a great number of desired results facilitate better performance. When an organization has either too many critical goals or goals that are complicated and difficult to remember, expectations are obscured, and team members can suffer from a lack of focus, or worse -- paralysis.
Even teams who are aligned on Key Results can struggle to achieve them due to internal silos that occur as a result of too many "to-do"s. Without the simplicity of just three to five clearly-stated topline results, employees can become frustrated, confused, and fall into patterns of blame, excuse-making, and resentment, saying I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing.
On the other hand, when desired results are simple and clearly-stated, employees feel confident in knowing what they are working toward and can thus take accountability for achieving results. Instead of assigning blame or making excuses, employees proactively ask, What else can I do?
This attitude of personal accountability empowers all employees to recognize critical gaps hindering the achievement of results, take ownership for bridging those gaps, practice creative problem-solving to develop effective solutions, and deliver on their promises to hit Key Results.
3. Fostering a Culture of Appreciation
Finally, Kondo is an advocate of expressing gratitude to objects for how they have served us in our lives. While talking to inanimate objects may not suit everyone, the practice of cultivating gratitude it has been empirically proven that expressing gratitude has a positive impact on personal happiness.
In the workplace, leaders can cultivate a culture of gratitude by delivering feedback in a positive, principled way rather than a punitive or retroactive way. Further, they can recognize employees for outstanding performance and champion accountability, focusing on promoting gratitude-centered progress rather than reprimanding failures.
Expressing and encouraging gratitude at work creates a warm, welcoming environment in which all employees feel valued for their contributions. However, emphasizing gratitude in the workplace translates to even bigger "wins" for the business: when employees feel appreciated, they are statistically more likely to engage deeply with their work -- which, in turn, increases the overall productivity and performance of the organization.