How to Maintain Forward Movement
Organizations and people always have trajectory. They never stand still. Standing still while the world changes means you’re falling backward.
Falling backward means you’re becoming irrelevant. On the other hand, forward movement drives you toward relevance.
Four basics for maintaining forward movement.
- Go with what you know. Don’t let what you don’t know control your decisions.
- Move forward with those currently on the team. Don’t wait for those you wish you had.
- Move forward with passionate advocates. Don’t wait for those you wish had passion.
- If you’re reacting, it may be too late. Move forward or die.
Five ways to respond to those who reject forward movement.
- Respect, listen, and learn from those who disagree.
- Honor the past.
- Maintain alignment with values.
- Be inclusive.
- Encourage and heal everywhere.
Leaders define the future and then create it. Drucker put it this way, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Forward is life. Backward is death.
Who defines forward? It’s not who, it’s what. Mission and vision inform, guide, and fuel forward movement.
How much confidence is enough to pull the trigger and move forward?
My answer came during a conversation with Michael Linton, former Chief Marketing Officer for Best Buy and Ebay. Michael suggests the 70% rule. If you are 70% sure it’s going to work go for it.
70% confidence is enough confidence.
This isn’t a scientific formula. You’re still dealing with the “gut factor.” However, Michael’s 70% rule makes sense to me.
If you are a pessimist perhaps you need a 60% rule. If you are an optimist perhaps your rule should be 80% confidence.
Not too late.
What if you’ve already fallen backward? Working through setbacks is forward movement – again. Keep moving forward.
What other suggestions might help a person or an organization maintain forward movement?
This post fits beautifully with a recent tweet of mine – “Even if you are on the right track … you’ll get run over if you just sit there!” The key principles also resonate well with the advice I have been giving to a new client.
Thanks for the affirmation!
And thank you for the affirmation!
Moving forward is life and leaders always follow this rule. Being positive and acting with confidence are the pillars of success. Believe in your current team and encourage them to support you in your mission which is beneficial to all.
Optimism, focused efforts and the progress checks can help achieving plans. We can also add courage to think differently and convincing others as two other essentials for a forward movement. Following good principles and values will become the soul of any good action for future.
I really like this idea – reminds me of a guidline I’ve come across a few times recently:
“Complex ideas have many solutions – the key isn’t to find the right solution that will work, the key is to choose a good solution and MAKE it work”
Reminds me of one of my favorite sayings. “Sometimes it is easier to act our way to a new way of thinking than think our way to a new way of acting.” This can be particularly valuable for individuals who tend to think a lot before taking action. Sometimes you’ve thought about something from every conceivable angle, talked to others, considered all the advice, etc. At that time, take some action…move forward. In the action comes energy, and sometimes that additional energy is exactly what you needed to build confidence about the decision.
Another good post – it’s going to be a great week in LF Land!
This made me think of a principle I learned about life management — that is to plan “five to ten years ahead” of where you’re at life-wise. In other words, when you are 55 think about what you may need when you’re 65 – a smaller home, easier physical access, different budget considerations. Point being that some decisions are better made from a relatively “distant” emotional place where they can be made more rationally. I think the same may apply to maintaining forward movement — it’s not enough just to have annual production or sales goals, but you have to try to anticipate what KIND of organization you think you’ll want to be in the longer distant future. Applies to individuals as well.
Good morning Dan. This is a very timely post. In these uncertain times this concept arguably is the most important. Certainly in our industry(Healthcare) which is in chaos right now standing still becomes a sure formula for obsolescence. A chinese proverb tells us to ” not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still.” It is difficult to disrupt the comfort of the status quo but your “nuggets of wisdom” on maintaining forward momentum and dealing with the “CAVE” (continually against virtually everything) folks is spot on. The golden rule especially when there is an inordinate amount of resistance is first to communicate and provide clarity and secondly to take baby steps. It is difficult to make sudden shifts with your rudder when you are motoring a cruise size vessel at fast speed. Having to straddle the proverbial fence not knowing when to jump to one side can cause a lot of angst but flipping to the wrong side prematurely can be so much more painful. As you correctly put it, setbacks will occur and we must learn from them and move on ahead. Market dynamics are very important and play a critical role in how an organization moves forward. Being an early adopter in the right environment can provide some competitive advantage but being the first one out of the gate in a different setting may let you be the beta product. I always tell my folks whether they would prefer to be the artist painting the landscape or stand behind observing or worse be the figure in the picture? 🙂 Have a great day, Al
Hey, I had a reframe moment recently, don’t know if it helps or not, even if it ‘feels’ like chaos, a person said to me it may be result of the increasing level of complexity that we face….
While the ‘gut’ instinct is often valid, at 70% certainty and even 80%, would want some metrics or other ‘non-gut’ markers to help determine if you are moving in the right direction. Even in sailing you have to tack away from the goal to move forward from time to time.
As far as forward momentum, Ben Franklin said it well…”when you are finished changing, you are finished.”
The proposed responses to change resistance are brilliant! 🙂 – these relate directly to the research I’m currently undertaking into the potential impacts of Digital Natives on change management practice.
Ultimately, it may be impossible for two or more groups to live an identical set of values, but through identifying values that are shared a greater understanding of each other can be achieved and progress made towards mutually beneficial change.
True, going forward is the main objective, as with Docs comment though, being prepared that you might feel as if you are going backwards is also important. Today I took a major project ‘wish list’ set out all the items in groups and have set weekly meetings with the team in which we will pick up between 1 and 3 items to progress and complete for the next week, for reporting back on, and then setting the next three. This should see the project signed off in about 1 years time with no major dramas, a fluid plan, great feedback and feedforward and naturally forward momentum. I do things this way as I find otherwise people get lost in detail and scared to move.
Hey Richard, might consider factoring in a 5-10% drama quotient or at least a gumby element. Just had discussion about how the timelines for progress get set without being ‘real’–sans vacations, sickness, etc. Don’t forget to celebrate those completions…that can be seriously energizing..and fun. Just a thought, good luck!
Defintiely gumby’s Doc. Thanks for the reminder to celebrate, i don’t do this as often as I used to – age? Must go an dig out Kool and The Gang.
Killin me Croadie…thought it was KC and the Sunshine Band…
Another good post.
“Go with what you know. Don’t let what you don’t know control your decisions.”
As individuals, many times we hesitate to move forward for the above reason. We make excuses like, it’s uncomfortable; it’s challenging; my weaknesses will be revealed. Stop making assumptions and eliminate all excuses.
You don’t know, but will only find out as you begin to inquire/push the envelope. This is where the real growth begins. Your current knowledge will surprise you, as you become curious.
For daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly progress in your life, create discipline by setting goals (write down & review daily). Trust that as you make a commitment to move forward you are closer to the next level of ‘knowing’.
Great advice for not only business, but also your career: “If you’re reacting, it may be too late. Move forward or die.”
Just heard a quote from Andy Stanley along the same lines…You’ll never be 100% sure, but you can be 80% confident. Great post!
Your four basics for maintaining forward movement were right on the mark. The one that I feel will help you the most to move forward is “Move forward with passionate advocates. Don’t wait for those you wish had passion.” Passionate advocates have so much positive energy, they energize the entire team.
I’d never heard the 70% rule; the 80-20 rule seems to be one that hear all the time. I like that idea and will adopt it.
I really enjoyed your post.
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