Good Intentions…No Action!

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As I spend a proportion of my time speaking at conferences and facilitating workshops as well as writing articles, I am sharing with people my research into effective organisations and the people that lead them.

I often start my presentation with, “I want you to take one thing away from today that you will act on and use”. I tell them that if ‘you write down too many things you will not get started on any’. A list of ten things tend to switch people off and they never get started on any. One or two things written down do not seem so daunting and there is the impetus to get started and deal with one of them now.

I had a wonderful interview this week with an amazing man in Manchester, United Kingdom, John Timpson. John Timpson is Chairman of Timpson which operates 560 stores throughout the UK. John is a case study of excellence in business with a wonderful way of looking at business. His on-going success is a testament of how his approach works, because of this he is often asked to speak at conferences and events also.

He made a comment to me that sums up what this months Thoughts on Leadership is about. He said that ‘many people praise him for his work and his successful ideas in running a business. However, then they go home and close the door and change nothing!

Why? What makes someone hear good ideas and excellent examples of how to improve their business, and then do nothing about it? It is not as if there isn’t a need for better business performance across most businesses. I hear business leaders complain, every week, about the threat from Asia, the competitiveness of their industry and the shortage of good people. Yet they hear ideas about how to make a business competitive and they do nothing!

There are a number of reasons this can happen. The one I have already touched on is because people are overwhelmed with too much information. A list of ten or twenty good ideas looks daunting and often people don’t know where to start. Some go back and believe they need to prepare the ground before starting to implement. Others go back thinking they need time to consider what they have learned and how they will apply it.

Of course each of these means that the list gets put to one side until time is available. The list then gets lost in a pile of papers! In some cases the list becomes a beloved travel companion that goes everywhere with you in the belief that when you have a few minutes you will read the list and consider how you will get started.

There are some lists that are the most well-traveled documents in the world!

There are also those people that have good intentions and then get back to work and try to implement it and when they don’t get instant results, they give up. These are the people who think that their circumstances are different. They believe that other people’s methods don’t work because it is a different industry or because they think they have a different type of people working for them.

It is amazing how many excuses you can dream up when you just don’t want to make the effort.

Finally, (and there are probably many more reasons than I list here) there is the person who just can’t be bothered. To change would be accepting that the way I was before was wrong.

Whatever the reason is, the starting point is to recognise that you are in the habit (or trap) of having good intentions but not following through. Lack of being able to understand that you have this habit will mean that you will never deal with it.

So how do you deal with the problem?

There are a number of simple tips that could help, if you discipline yourself and (most importantly) really want to get the most out of your learning. It all centres around planning.

Before you even attend an event, consider what you want to get from the event. This will make the implementation a lot easier because you have a desire and so the way to implement it will be more obvious.

The second is to sit down and prioritise the list of things you have learned and decide which you want to tackle first. In doing this you will often be able to delegate some of the ideas by having a simple briefing with someone else. Tell them what you learned and ask them to take control and head up what needs to be done.

These are the more simple answers. However, one of the big problems lies with your ability to explain to your people what you have learned so that they can understand what made you want to act on it and where it came from.

This takes planning as well. Put the time aside to brief your people. Explain the rationale and get their input. Show your desire to want to make change but want to take them with you. If there are people who argue the idea negatively or resist it, then deal with them separately and move on with those that are willing to give it a go.

So my questions for this month are:

Are you in the habit of wanting to do something and then not getting around to it?  Do you go to sessions, conferences, workshops, etc. and then end up not applying what you have learned?

* If so, what do you need to put in place to ensure you follow through?

* How will you plan for sessions, conferences, workshops and other events in future?

* How will you involve your people in new ideas so that action is taken?

* What can you do to motivate yourself to follow through on your intentions?

* Who can support me in achieving this?

Have a great month and thanks for all the emails.

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