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I Can Do Anything You Can Do Better Than You: Ways to Back Up Your Dare

Dec 16, 2007
This article looks at how to outdo what anyone else will be able to do in the near future. Now, that may seem like a high hurdle to jump, but if you know how it's a comfortable hop for anyone. The key is to break it down into simple steps involving answering a few questions.

To accomplish 20 times as much with the same time, effort, and resources, you need to learn and continually use all eight steps of the breakthrough process in the correct order. The steps are listed here:

1. Understand the importance of measuring performance.

2. Decide what to measure.

3. Identify the future best practice and measure it.

4. Implement beyond the future best practice.

5. Identify the ideal best practice.

6. Pursue the ideal best practice.

7. Select the right people and provide the right motivation.

8. Repeat the first seven steps.

In this article, I'll focus on step three, implement past the future best practice (the best anyone else will be able to do in the near term).

Jump Past Where Everyone Else Wants to Go

Successful leapfrogging the future best practice requires that change leaders in an organization unify efforts. These leaders must commit to this challenging objective and shift the organizational culture to support them. Those working on the implementation must become masters of understanding the subprocesses needed to make the successful change.

Triage for Maximum Effect

Narrow your focus to a few areas of highest promise so that you do not water down your potential for results. Begin by segmenting those aspects of exceeding future best practices into three categories that:

1. Can be implemented almost immediately with little effort.

2. Can be implemented within two years with effort and attention.

3. Can be implemented over more than two years.

In your triage agenda, you can probably do most things that fall into the first category easily, quickly, and with little help except where the activity stymies a high-priority item from the second category. The challenge comes in selecting from the second and third categories.

Here's an important limitation to keep in mind: You probably cannot make more than three or four changes at the same time that involve the same people. You'll make the most progress when you pick the best balance of near- and intermediate-term benefits while placing the least strain on your people and resources.

To that mix, add anything else you can do through aggressive use of outside resources that doesn't increase the internal burden. Within that agenda, give high priority to actions that will give you the most benefit over the next two years. Organize your efforts so that some significant benefits will be realized every six months or so to keep everyone motivated and working effectively.

We're Almost Done-In

Since the thinking about ideal best practices will suggest other outstanding choices, beware of setting too many firm projects at this step. After all, you may be ready with better ideas from step six within just a few weeks. But if completing step six will take more than a few months, you should begin to implement some of what has been identified in step four.

In this case, I recommend that you reserve some change capacity (such as time of key people, analytical resources, and budget) beginning around the time that you will have some new projects to add. This approach may mean that you will choose to mine category 1 from the triage list more heavily for now than category 2.

Outsourcing for Outstanding Possibilities

To estimate how long it will take you to put a new practice in place, look at the experience of those who preceded you in implementing those practice elements. Then consider whether your organization will be a faster or slower learner and integrator than they were. As you consider your choices, be open to having the company you studied or some of its former employees be an outsourcing provider to speed your progress. Simply because you want to employ a certain subprocess doesn't mean that you need to become the world's expert in that area.

Go Where the Benefits Are the Greatest

Beware of taking quantifications of likely benefits too literally. One project may appear to offer ten times the potential of another project, but the former project may also be a hundred times more difficult. Instead, emphasize places where you can effectively concentrate your resources while facing little resistance from any stakeholder or competitor. Choose a project that seems to offer more benefits, however, when two competing projects present similar difficulty and degrees of opposition.


Understand Your Track Record for Implementing Beyond Future Best Practices

Organizations vary widely in their ability to exceed future best practices through assembling new combinations of subprocesses. Many overestimate how well they will do in bringing groundbreaking new directions to an industry. Ask yourself these questions:

-What significant attempts has your organization made to improve over the last five years?

-Which attempts achieved their purpose on budget and on schedule?

-Which attempts did not?

-What were the apparent causes for the two types of results based on discussions with those who worked on the attempts?

-How many successful implementations were key individuals able to work on at once?

-What could you do in the future to improve your organization's effectiveness in such implementations?

Develop Project Plans to Exceed the Future Best Practice

Your ideas for projects to exceed the future best practice will usually come from research into what others are doing and planning to do. To test the direction you should take, check out what's involved by developing project plans based on the answers to the following questions:

-Which projects have a favorable cost-to-benefit ratio?

-Which projects have an affordable cost compared to your resources and limitations?

-Which projects have a reasonable likelihood of success?

Compare Your Plans to Past Results

-Which of these potential changes look like your past successes?

-Which potential changes look like your past misses and messes?

-Do the opportunities to use your strengths in implementing future-best-practice-exceeding changes provide you with enough benefit to exceed the future best practice?

-If not, what are the simplest, most effective ways to enhance your organization's ability to provide or absorb more valuable improvements?

-What is the risk of failing to succeed?


Remember to keep some time available to look at the opportunities you will develop from considering the ideal best practice. Ideally, pick projects needed to surpass future best practices to mesh with the projects that will come out of your work in approaching the ideal best practice.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is coauthor of six books including The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, and The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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