Step 3: Write a scene for success

In our previous blogs, we have outlined two key steps to take before you dive into that new project or idea that you are so excited about.  Those were: Step 1 – Set your Goals and Step 2 – Define your target audience, or personas.  Now it is time for the final step – decide what success looks like and the best way to do that is to write a scene.  I wish I could say this was my idea, but it’s not.  The smart people at Wharton wrote a great article on this concept called Visionary Leadership: Creating Scenes that Change the Future.   The idea is to define success for your project/challenge/opportunity by creating a scene – like in a movie – of what success would look like in the future.  We did this at a company that we are consulting with and it was a great exercise.

Write the Scene


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Our effort was an Agile implementation at a company with lots of legacy software and its fair share of legacy processes and ideas.  We sat down and pretended that we were through the Agile adoption and the core tenets of Agile were alive and well.  Our scene involved speedy response to a changing market condition, reprioritization of work, team execution of a new deliverable, finding out that deliverable was not the correct response, immediately incorporating that feedback, course-correcting and quickly deploying a more suitable solution.  This scene included management and stakeholders playing a supportive role without judgment, finger-pointing or unnecessary meetings.  Sounds like a dream world, right?  This was a great exercise because it forced us to think about all of the attitudes and practices that would need to change to make this scene a reality and that was eye-opening.

Refine the Plan

Once we had the scene documented, we had to revisit our implementation plan.  Our communication ideas, for example, involved the traditional e-mail campaigns, posters, contests, etc.  But for the scene to become a reality, we needed to change people’s perceptions and that wasn’t going to happen with an e-mail campaign.  We added one-on-one meetings and personalized training to the communication plan.  We created mechanisms for more honest conversations and we created greater transparency around the Agile implementation to increase buy-in.  Starting with the scene – or starting with the end in mind, as Steven Covey suggests – allowed us to be more thoughtful and more purposeful in our activities.

Incorporate the Beliefs

We recently got to hear a great talk by Tanner Corbridge from Partners in Leadership.  He introduced us to the Results Pyramid.  I won’t be able to do it justice, but the core concept is – we try to drive results from actions but if the underlying beliefs of the organization are counter to what we are trying to achieve, we will never see the results that we strive for.  And the only way to change the beliefs of an organization is to change the experiences that reinforce those beliefs.  Tanner had a great example with kids that was very relatable.  If we threaten our kids with time-outs if they misbehave, but they misbehave and we never follow through, then the experiences tell the kids that we aren’t serious when we threaten them.  This belief is built on experiences.  If we tell them “I am serious this time,” the belief will remain unchanged unless the experience changes.  Once we start enforcing our ‘time-out’ rules, the experience is different and the belief will change.  The same is true in our work organizations.  You can say all day long that you empower your people, but if their experiences show that you do not, then their belief is that our office doesn’t empower its people.  No matter how many powerpoint slides and t-shirts you share that talk about empowerment, you won’t change that belief – unless you change the underlying experiences that drive that belief.  Great stuff, right??

How does this relate to our scene?  Well, our scene is success in a future state.  In order to get there, we have to adjust beliefs and in order to adjust beliefs, we have to change experiences — Today!  We cannot expect the beliefs to change to create this wonderful new reality we created in our scene.  We need to work on that immediately because culture doesn’t change overnight.  Incorporating the new beliefs again drove our implementation plan so we could start creating new experiences.

If you are undertaking a new project or a great idea, take a brief moment to pause and ensure that you have defined your goals, determined your target market and created a scene for success.  Thinking through this will refine your actions and point you towards spectacular achievements!



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