Having led and advised companies many companies throughout my career, I noticed that most of them share one trait-- they think big. While no one would argue that this characteristic is essential to drive growth, like most things, the devil is in the details. Thinking big usually leads to complex projects, spending lots of money, and deploying lots of people. The time frame to complete these projects tends to be long, sometimes years, and this fact alone creates problems.
The sheer size and length of these projects makes it difficult for your employees stay motivated and engaged in their work as it is an "all or nothing" proposition. These experiences led me to create "The Quick Win."
Working with a number of venture-backed and private equity funded companies, I saw how these companies adopted an entirely different approach to project management. In essence, the process turns upside down, breaking a huge project into many smaller, manageable pieces.
Deadlines are measured in weeks, allowing teams to successfully achieve their goals. It allows for instant changes in future steps based on observation of what just was completed. It enables employees to actively engage and contribute on a daily basis.
Participating in these small successes will motivate and encourage employees. It also provides confidence that the ultimate project will be successful. Importantly, it does not mean thinking small but rather represents a process that yields a higher probability of success of execution.
Here are three real-life reasons why The Quick Win helps leaders and their teams:
1. Prioritizing Is Essential, Constantly
Breaking work into smaller chunks allows you to intensively focus on near term goals. Atisha Patel of NotiCare and Teenpreneur Inc. explained in a recent Philadelphia Magazine article that she celebrates small wins with her teams and focuses on the positive in order for the big picture to be realized. Every Sunday, she plans her week ahead. But every night, she tweaks her plan to accommodate whatever happens during the day. Her flexibility and adaptability gives her the opportunity to keep her employees focused. Atisha's leadership really empowers those she works with.
2. Keep It Simple
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has continuously emphasized keeping things simple for both his leadership strategy and Amazon's mission. Simplicity allows for better communication. I've noticed that many times the people working on a portion of a big project have no idea what the purpose of the project is. On a personal level, they have a role that is likely very specific, but they don't appreciate the purpose, scope and ultimate benefit of the large project. Having smaller projects enables leaders to effectively communicate about why this particular project is so important, and how it fits into a larger context. There is a great story about when President Kennedy visited the Houston Space Center before the launch. He asked a janitor what his job was, and he responded, "I am helping put a man on the moon."
3. Identify the Drivers of Change
As I mentioned earlier, the Quick Win is not about diluting the big project nor does it create more work for yourself. Instead, you're empowering your employees to confidently own these smaller projects and increase the likelihood of being on schedule and allowing them to experience success. A recent Harvard Business Review article explains that a number of psychologists agree that small wins allow for positive reinforcement and strategy simplification which can reduce stress and allow your people to think clearly.
While thinking big normally results in huge projects, remember that sometimes taking smaller bites allows an organization to better digest the work and achieve success. As the late, great Steve Jobs said: "If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time."