Do or Do Not

While wandering through the big swamp a few hundred yards from my house in Birchrunville, I came upon a grayish figure levitating above the water. Disturbed by my approach, he opened his eyes and stared at me intently.

We watched each other silently for a bit, me frozen in shock and him with curiosity. Then as if reading my mind, Yoda said “No! Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.”

I had gone out on a walk to think about something that has come up a number of times with my EOS clients. One of the tenets of EOS is that the tasks you commit to doing must have some metrics attached so everyone knows if you  completed them fully or not. We call the major tasks “rocks” although some have called out the hugest by naming them “boulders”. They are the things needing to be done that have the biggest impact on the future of the company.

One of the metrics is the date the task will be fully completed. During weekly meetings, everyone is asked  a simple question: On Track or Off Track? On the due date we ask a different question: Done or Not Done?

This process does wonders for focusing the leadership team and other managers on what must be accomplished in order for the company to grow and become even more profitable. And yet, important as these rocks, or boulders  are for the company’s future, some leadership team members initially respond to Done or Not Done with answers such as “Almost done”, “It will be done in a few weeks”, or “I tried but didn’t complete it.”

In spite of telling them numerous times that Done or Not Done is binary, it takes a while for them to understand I mean this. 99% Done is Not Done.

I was pleased to have Yoda confirm the value of what I’ve been doing with clients by offering such a powerful statement in response to my musing about this issue. There is indeed no try. Assuming accountability for a task means you commit to meeting all the metrics of full completion fully. By the due date.

As this way of doing things  permeates the company, more gets accomplished more rapidly. Everyone is amazed at what happens when they actually accomplish all the most important company tasks fully and on time.

This process also has an interesting peer-pressure effect. No one wants to be called out by having to respond Not Done.

The most powerful way to get the slackers moving is for their co-workers to let them know they’re hurting the company and everyone in it. And those saying Done regularly are quick to point out how annoyed they are with those regularly announcing Not Done.

Before continuing my walk, I thanked Yoda for his helpful advice. He responded with a few final words of wisdom for me to contemplate:  “Your path you must decide.”

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