In the 1960s, the US Navy coined a phrase to describe a best practice in design: K.I.S.S, or Keep It Simple, Stupid. (For those who like their acronyms less confrontational, it is also known as Keep It Short and Simple, among other things).
The same can be said for changes in business practices introduced with the start of the new year. Big shifts in methodology may sometimes be necessary, but small tweaks to what you are already doing can go a long way on the path to company-wide change.
If your New Year’s Resolutions are already behind schedule, try picking just one of the following areas to implement one positive change in the coming week, month, or quarter.
When to make a change
Daniel H.Pink in his classic business book ‘When’ points out that New Year’s Day is one of many ‘temporal landmarks’ throughout the year when people attempt to change their habits. New Year’s Day is the most obvious, and you may well be in the middle of following one of these resolutions right now…or wondering how it has already gone off track.
No matter when you start though – a new quarter, financial year, or a company anniversary work just as well as January 1st – adopting simple, effective new habits will ensure that they are more successful and last longer than the average New Year’s Resolution, and not become the dusty, unused gym memberships of early February. Here are a few to try.
Keep track of meeting results
Serial entrepreneur Richard Branson has one piece of advice which can be implemented immediately by anyone, anywhere: write it down. Meetings can be fast and furious, but having everything written down, and available for later review and action, is essential.
“No matter how big, small, simple or complex an idea is, get it in writing. But don’t just take notes for the sake of taking notes, go through your ideas and turn them into actionable and measurable goals. If you don’t write your ideas down, they could leave your head before you even leave the room.”- Richard Branson
Focus on one thing each day
Barry Schwarz’s best-seller ‘The Paradox of Choice’ highlights the difficulty of choosing what task to tackle first each day. Even having just two choices can be a drag and leave you feeling like the eponymous animal in the fable of Buridan’s donkey – stuck between two equally delicious piles of hay, and starving to death when it can’t decide which to go for.
Start each day by having a single Top Priority, something you promise to yourself (and your team) to get done before anything else. This was part of the revolutionary idea consultant Ivy Lee taught to Charles Schwab over a century ago which earned him the equivalent of almost half a million dollars: attack the first thing on your list before you move on to anything else. That is, after all, the literal definition of a priority: prior to anything else!
‘Business philosopher’ may be one of the coolest job descriptions out there, and Dov Seidman is a thought leader in the field. His company LRN set out to measure the importance of culture in companies, and as he told John Doerr, in his seminal book ‘Measure What Matters,’ their annual HOW report found that “there was no more cultural force than ‘active transparency.’
Simply ensuring that your entire team knows what everyone is working on, the bigger goals they are building to, and how they are progressing, ensures connection, collaboration, and cooperation.
Check-in regularly with your team
David Brent, from the UK version of hit TV show ‘The Office,’ may have been onto something when ‘incorrectly’ guessing that his staff was more important to his business than the customer:
Putting the ‘human’ in Human Resources can keep your company motivated, productive, and ahead of the curve. It can be something as simple as sending out a monthly eNPS survey, (there’s a reason companies from Apple to Zoom employ this simple, one-question method), or as wide-reaching as establishing a regular 1-on-1 meeting with every employee.
Whether embarking on a whole new business methodology or course-correcting your current practices, small changes can make big differences. Any time can be a good time to try one or two out.