Focusing on Actions, not Results

I just had a conversation with an entrepreneur I’ve worked with for decades that resulted in an insight that I thought was worth sharing more broadly. We were talking about managing teams and in this case the challenge of getting some of his exec team focused on broader goals and the end result we’re driving for in the upcoming year (a big growth year for this business). The solution we outlined was to focus on actions (concrete, clear, definable) vs. the more vague set of results that we had been trying to align everyone around. We’re still driving to the same outcomes but the leap was too large in a couple of cases for people to get their hands around. By focusing on actions we moved a strategic conversation to a tactical one that each exec could internalize and the end of year results became the outcome not the driver, as they ultimately should be. Every journey starts with a step…

  • I’ve found that it’s all about finding the balance between the bias for acation and analysis paralysis. We measure this every day with the number of people who we engage with, what’s your smart KPI?

  • Hi Seth, I also use something similar. When we define our OKRs, I usually help the teams to differentiate between lead measures and lag measures.
    Lead measures: actions (concrete, clear, definable)
    Lag measures: vague set of results that we had been trying to align everyone around

    Example:
    Lag measure: Losing 20 pounds in 3 months
    Lead measures:
    1. Exercise 3 times/week.
    2. Eat 300 fewer calories five times a week.

    • Hey Yousef! Nice to see you here in the comments!

      Your example is spot on. It can sometimes be hard to get people to understand the actions that need to be taken to drive a specific outcome – so focus on the actions you know will work and the outcome follows….