In last weeks, post I talked about how leaders are always looking to be more effective. To increase our effectiveness it helps to look for principles that can help us do that. I mentioned that the Pareto principle. Commonly referred to, as the 80/20 principle is a powerful tool to assess not just what we do but how we do it.
As mentioned in last weeks post the 80/20 principles main take away is that there is a natural imbalance between my efforts and outcomes. In addition, that the majority of my outcomes are the results of a minority of causes.
Now having that established, we can begin to ask the next questions how can we improve our outcomes.
If the typical pattern is that 80% of the results come from 20% of the inputs it is necessarily typical too that 80%, the great majority of inputs are having only a marginal 20% impact. Again as alluded to last week…this means that there is a lot of room for improvement.
That our outcomes cannot just be improved but multiplied!
So this of course begs the question how do we multiple our efforts?
Great question and here are two simple ways
1. Reallocate the resources from unproductive to productive uses.
2. Make the unproductive resources more effective
Last week I talked about #1 so let me conclude this series by focusing on #2.
The key to making getting more from an unproductive source starts with recognizing that the productivity level is subpar. This might mean confrontation and or conflict as a leader when you have to tell people that things are not as they should be. It might mean that you have to take a hard look at a beloved program and realize that it’s simply not producing the results that you want from it. In the end, you must face the brutal fact that something is not meeting the standard.
Once this is accepted then the next step is to asses how can you make the person, program etc. increase its yield. I think we can find wonderful helps by looking at the parable of the unproductive fig tree.
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
A. Surround it: It might simply not be receiving enough nutrients to produce. It may need a bit more resources in the form of time, people, finances, etc. to yield the crop you want to see. Failure to produce is not always indicative of the item itself. It can be indicative of the leader, owner not providing the necessary resources for the person, program, business or product to thrive.
B. Dung it: You have to get your hands dirty. You cannot leave productivity to chance. You have to feel around and get to the root of issues and poke around. This requires detail, asking probing questions, and getting to the root of what is necessary to provide needed growth. This means that you as the leader might also be uncomfortable. No one likes the smell of dung. In addition, you might learn or find things you did not want to know when you unearth the truth behind the failure to produce.
C. Give it sufficient time to grow. You have to measure your change over time. Measure it over days weeks, and months if you need to. Nevertheless, you need to have a kill switch time that if improvement does not occur you have to be willing to move to the last step.
D. Be willing to remove the unproductive item if all else fails. This can be hard. It can seem like perhaps we have failed. However, the reality is in the failure to recognize that something is not working and continuing to let it go on. That is failure. To paraphrase Thomas Edison, you simply learned what didn’t work. That is not failure.
I hope this has been a blessing to you please let me know by leaving a comment below!