Success is difficult to attain in business, sport and even our personal lives. There seems to be competition for our time and attention in everything we do. I was watching TV when the latest NAB more than money campaign said: “on average only 50% of new businesses actually succeed.” The statement hit me right between the eyes because I’ve recently been thinking about what it takes to be both scalable and sustainable.
As a results orientated person I’m easily motivated by outcomes and the opportunity to improve. But as someone who has also experienced Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I know there needs to be balance to enable results to be sustained over the longer term.
In consulting engagements, I see people in their work environments challenged where they either can't cope with the workload or the complexity of the work. I noted with interest research of 1,000 white collar workers in the UK from the London School of Business and Finance which found that 47% of the people interviewed wanted to change jobs. The nature of work challenges are often complex by nature and the number 1 reason for leaving a job is well documented as being due to the manager and not the company or products. However, would this still be the case if managers were able to help their teams be more scalable and sustainable?
Situations only fester and become harder to resolve unless there’s focused action to address. Unfortunately, the most common approach is to assume that’s just how it is or put them in the too hard basket. As such, there isn’t enough focus or effort on developing ways to improve.
What can be done?
I think the first thing to do is to identify where you are in regards to the scalable and sustainable model.
Established – ok at what you do but don’t have scope for much else? Like the corded home phone that still works today but has been taken over by the various forms of mobile technology.
If we’re in the Established quadrant we need to be mindful that we don’t get too comfortable or set in our ways and miss opportunities to evolve and grow.
Endangered – like the Giant Panda, are you at risk of being an endangered species?
If we’re in the Endangered quadrant it’s likely our confidence is low or we’re feeling overwhelmed. This is the worst possible place to be so if we’re here attention needs to be on what’s necessary to change our situation.
Expansive – capable but underperform because you only do this for brief periods? (whether that be an hour, a week or even a month) Like a shooting star in the sky do you fade just as quickly?
If we’re in the Expansive quadrant we’re capable but limiting success because we’re unable to maintain it consistently.
Ecocentric – does your technique hold up under pressure? If a challenge or opportunity surfaces are you able to grasp it? Like an ecocentre are you sustainable and viable?
The Ecocentric quadrant is the best place to be and I believe it’s where we should aspire to get to.
Once you’ve assessed where you are, now align with your goals to where you want to be. Three actions to move quadrants are:
A. Established to Ecocentric
Learn new skills – undertake training to extend your knowledge to help transition what was previously uncomfortable become comfortable.
Get a mentor – to guide and support you to evolve.
Go wide – if doing more complex work is outside of your capabilities then grow your value by taking on more tasks and responsibilities that are within your capabilities.
B. Endangered to Ecocentric
Align your passion – with what your passionate about with what you do for work? Imagine loving your job so much that you almost jump out of bed each day to go to work.
Find the right role – that combines what you’re interested in and good at.
Set a goal – break the goal down into small actionable steps and milestones. While there will be bumps along the road don’t be deterred and continue to action the tasks required to achieve the goal.
C. Expansive to Ecocentric
Work habits – do you have good techniques or do you find yourself disorganised, unfocused (poor planning and prioritisation) or easily distracted? Fine tune your work habits to enable consistent progress.
Healthy lifestyle – maintain your level of energy by making good choices on what you eat and drink. Combine this with getting an appropriate amount of exercise and sleep.
Execute – the identified tasks. Schedule and action complex tasks for the times of day you do your best work and process the more simple tasks when your energy levels are lower. The difference between the really high performers and others isn’t about who’s smarter, it’s about who executes the best.
Digital disruption is challenging old paradigms and creating new ways of doing business. To keep ourselves current in this global economy we need to be agile and effective. A good place to start is to have a rhythm of work to support you to be scalable and sustainable.