Friday 13 September 2019

Sustaining shared-view in seven areas of significance - part six - progress

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is the sixth in a series of seven about arguably the most powerful philosophy that I work with my clients on. I call it shared-view.

In the workplace to be remarkable we need a shared-view in what I call seven areas of significance:  reality, possibility, purpose, strategy, execution, progress, and culture.

Today we're exploring execution.

Here's the Reality post and podcast.

Here's the Possibility post and podcast.

Here's the Purpose post and podcast.

Here's the Strategy post and podcast.

Here's the Execution post and podcast.

I’ll be referencing throughout this series a short paper that I published recently about shared-view which you can download here. There's also a designated page at my website where there's short videos on each of the seven.


For most of my 48 years working life I’ve observed that in the very best workplaces progress towards shared objectives has been visible via scorecards and/or scoreboards of some kind.

In the 1990’s one of my clients was a train builder. I remember the whiteboards in the factory where about 300 people worked. Each whiteboard showed each team where they where at with their piece of the build.

When ‘The Balanced Scorecard’ concept began to be adopted from 1996 not only did the pictures get better, so did what was being pictured.

This was taken to a whole new level in 2011 when Teresa Amabile and her husband Steven Kramer published their book ‘The Progress Principle’, which was rated by Harvard Business Review as the breakthrough idea of 2010’s.

The key for me about ‘The Progress Principle’ is the insight "making progress in meaningful work visible.”

I’ve never thought much of the idea that what gets measured gets done. I’m much more aligned with the following statement by William Bruce Cameron in 'Informal Sociology' published 1963:

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Making progress in meaningful work visible takes the old ideas of lead measures and KPI’s to a whole new level.

As an 18 year old my boss came to me one day complaining my sales were down on expectations. I complained I didn’t have enough prospects. He spun on his heels and left my office only to return 5 minutes later with a phone book.

Slamming it down on my desk he said “There are plenty of prospects in there!” He then went on to explain to me that all the prospects in the world matters little unless they are qualified.

He further explained that qualified prospects was a lead measure meaning if I had a certain number at any given time I would almost be guaranteed the number of sales I needed. I could increase the likelihood of sales even more he told me if I kept appointments (another lead measure) with a certain number of qualified prospects every week.

My boss was right, and understanding lead measures matter more than lag measures has stood me in good stead all my life. It means I am never worried about or in fear of the future providing I am doing what I know works for me in the now.

The world right now is attached to outcomes or lag measures. The economy is an outcome. Profit is an outcome. What really matters is progress that is meaningful.

‘Technology vs. Humanity The coming clash between man and machine’ by Gerd Leonhard and ‘Everybody Matters The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family’ by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia, are two of the books on my top 21 recommended business books.

Of the many great take aways from ‘Technology vs. Humanity’ the concept of "key human indicators" as a far better way forward than the traditional and tired KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) got me very excited and led to a lot of thinking about how I can best integrate the concept in ways that benefit my clients.

Of the many great take aways from ‘Everybody Matters’ " ... process must serve the people not the other way around ..." was a favourite and also resulted in a lot of thinking about ways my clients could benefit.

An appreciation of both “key human indicators” and “process must serve the people” are keys to making progress in meaningful work visible.


What are you currently doing in making progress in meaningful work visible?

What improvements will you make?

Please considering the following:

“Post-industrial business is about doing meaningful things with meaningful people in a meaningful way.” 
Esko Kilpi

Machines will soon do most of the algorithmic work, the simple, routine, and repetitive.

This means you have a great opportunity to be remarkable and to do work that is meaningful for you and highly valuable for others.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

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