In his classic Essentialism, Greg McKeown observes:
Clarity of purpose…consistently predicts how people do their jobs… The fact is, motivation and cooperation deteriorate when there is a lack of purpose. You can train leaders on communication and teamwork and conduct 360 feedback reports until you are blue in the face, but if a team does not have clarity…problems will fester and multiply. When there is a lack of clarity, people waste time and energy on the trivial many.Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
McKeown is saying that the way we think about our work predicts how we do it. Techniques, strategies, data, PD — these are all good things, but they are only multipliers on how clear we are about what it is we're trying to do.
At your next meeting (or before the one you next lead), maybe ask:
- What's this for?
- What are we after?
- What's Everest?
And then at every meeting afterward, relentlessly return, in ways big and small, to an encapsulated version of what you're trying to do, where you're trying to go. Bring clarity of purpose to bear on all the work — even if the clarity is, “This isn't aligned with Everest, but it's something we have to do to keep on with our core work. How can we satisfice this?” As Montana's Tammy Elser likes to say, pervasively integrate Everest.
(For an extended treatment of the Everest idea, see Chapter 1 of These 6 Things — click here to download the pdf, no annoying opt-in required.)