Have you identified early tangible successes – ‘Quick Wins’ – as part of the overall strategic planning process to assure ‘buy-in’ from the team?
|A.||Do we need to?|
|B.||We are seriously considering this.|
|C.||We have set some ‘Quick Win’ sales targets for the team.|
|D.||We have agreed achievable ‘Quick Win’ sales and cost saving strategic targets with the team.|
|E.||Our team have embraced ‘Quick Win’ cash-flow optimization, sales margin improvement and cost saving strategic targets.|
|[Score: A=0, B=1, C=2, D=3 and E=4]|
Why is this question important?
Quick wins are small improvements that are easy to pursue and that, if you seize them, do not preclude you from pursuing detailed strategy solutions later. One of the major mistakes made in major change initiatives is that of overselling the long term goal at the expense of exploiting short term quick wins.
Your team will want to know where they are going but equally they want to understand where all this leads to.
In the process of delineating a detailed strategic action plan, it is critical for everyone involved to experience the benefits of short term wins so they can stay motivated for the future and the change that is yet to come.
John Kotter list several roles that short term wins play:
- Provide evidence that sacrifices are worth it: Wins greatly help justify the short term cost involved.
- Reward change agents: After a lot of hard work, positive feedback builds morale and motivation.
- Help fine-tune vision and strategies: Short term wins give the guiding coalition concrete data on the viability of their ideas.
- Undermine cynics and self-serving resisters: Clear improvements in performance make it difficult for people to block needed change.
- Keep bosses on board: Provides those higher in the hierarchy with evidence that the transformation is on track.
- Build momentum: Turns neutrals into supporters, reluctant supporters into active helpers.
Therefore it becomes critical in any change planning to build into the strategy several things that can be done within the first three / six months that may be small in scale but clear wins that everyone can share in.
Defining and implementing strategic planning and continuous improvement efforts take time – sometimes quite a long time! It is after all about ‘process’ and therefore staying the course.
However many simply are reluctant to go on the long march unless they see convincing evidence within a short time that the journey is worth the effort and will produce results. Thus a key challenge is to identify early tangible successes as part of the overall strategic planning process.
No more than medium-term or long-term ‘wins’ (where the trick is to create many milestones instead of just one final target or goal), short term ‘wins’ can only be created by deliberate planning and action.
Ideally short term wins must be:
- visible to everyone
- achieved within a short period of time
You should brainstorm possible ‘quick wins’ that would:
- increase sales
- increase profits
- improve cash-flow
- improve morale
Better if they require significant contributions from the team; this can help stir pride in employees when they see their ‘fingerprints’ on the outcome. They provide opportunities to celebrate and to build morale and motivation.
Traps on the Way to Quick Wins
Managers need to be aware of these traps:
- focusing too much on details
- reacting negatively to criticism
- intimidating others
- jumping to conclusions
- and micromanaging the people reporting to them.
Why are short term wins so critical to the overall success of change efforts?
They are very important because they help to:
- Create many milestones instead of just one final target or goal. Planning for, and achieving, quick wins provides important milestones people can look forward to while achieving the actual wins gives them a chance to pat themselves on the back sooner rather than only later
- Provide evidence that the sacrifice is worth it
- Justify the costs involved
- Give change agents credibility
- Provide opportunities to celebrate and to build morale and motivation, which are needed to keep change efforts moving forward down the long road ahead
- Fine-tune vision and strategies
- Give senior management and the guiding coalition concrete data on the viability of their ideas
- Undermine cynics and self-serving resisters; clear improvements in performance make it difficult for people to block the need to change
- Keep bosses on board – provides those higher in the hierarchy with evidence that the transformation is on track
- Build momentum – turn neutrals into visible supporters, get fence sitters off the fence, turn reluctant supporters into active and willing participants.
Best Practices For Leading Change
Harvard Business School’s Professor John Kotter introduced an organizational change model several years ago that is widely regarded as the best practice framework for leading change and major transformations. He has written many articles and two highly acclaimed books on the subject: ‘Leading Change’ and ‘The Heart Of Change’. As you undertake the planning and organizing of key activities, use this model as a guide to ensure all important areas are covered. Summary of Kotter’s Model: