Enable the Little Things to Add Up

Tuesday, January 15 2013

Any big successes an organization has are always the sum of many little things. As leader, it’s your job to create conditions for little successes to happen, to accumulate, and to be celebrated.
Consider these two quotes about “the little things” to spark your thinking.

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

It is natural to dream of and strive for big victories; but, if you don’t do the same for little victories the big ones won’t happen. Start with your dream for where the organization will be in the future; then work backwards toward the present. Ask yourself: Specifically, what will have to happen a year from now for us to know we are on the path to where we want to be in five or ten years? Assign a ‘champion’ to lead the accomplishment of this goal.

“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”
Warren Buffet

Ask the champion to develop a plan, describing each milestone that marks progress toward the goal. Have this champion identify the little things that will be accomplished each week. Include an action plan with specific timelines. Each week they are responsible for moving the organization toward the next milestone. These become the 1-foot bars that can be stepped over.

Ensure each person regularly presents a very brief report to their manager or the leadership team, describing what they planned to accomplish, whether they are on track, where they will be by the next report, and what help they need to move forward.

Celebrate every completed action, every milestone, and every dream that is realized. A personal “thank you” that acknowledges the value of the accomplishment reinforces the importance of each little step in its relation to the ultimate goal.  As each milestone is reached, celebrate in a progressively bigger way.

These actions will help everyone to focus on the little things that add up to great successes.

When all the little things accumulate, the result is a very big contribution to the long-term success of the organization.