Moving the Needle, When the Needle is Stuck

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Is one of your leadership dashboard needles stuck?

The international department of the Willow Creek Association recently came together and said that, as part of our 2017 plan, we wanted to move the needle of our team’s culture.

As a team we spent hours coming up with a picture of what an even healthier team would look like. We described a culture where there was, among other qualities, increased teamwork, greater levels of celebration, and an ongoing commitment to quality work.

But then a faint echo of the 2016 Global Leadership Summit showed up, and everything changed.

“Didn’t Chris McChesney’s talk give us some insights we could apply?” one of our team members asked. “Those outcomes, like teamwork and celebration, seem like lag-measures. I think we need to focus on lead measures.”

That person was right.

As McChesney outlined in this year’s Summit talk, leaders must identify key lead measures which, if focused on, can produce the lag measures the organization wants to see.

And so, when we focused on the lag measure of “Teamwork”, one of the lead measures I suggested was that we work with our office door’s open, whenever possible. Another lead measure that was offered was to “catch each other doing things right”.

Just a few days later, a colleague popped by my office to ask me a question about a project he was working on. After a brief exchange of ideas, my teammate turned to walk away. But then he suddenly stopped, turned back to me and said with a smile, “Hey Scott; I caught ya doing something right! Thanks for keeping your office door open. It made it really easy for me to come and talk to you about this.”

What has all of this taught us?

  1. It is vitally important that each person has the opportunity to speak into the team’s goals.

  2. Focusing on the outcomes, the lag measures, is ultimately ineffective because you can’t control the outcomes.

  3. It creates great energy when the team identifies its lead measures.

  4. Focusing on the lead measures really can ‘move the needle’ towards the desired outcomes.

If you are not seeing progress towards some key outcomes you are trying to achieve, consider the possibility that you should be focusing on what McChesney calls the lead measures instead.

Perhaps you’ll find, as we have, that the needle starts to move faster than you might imagine.


the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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