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Take Disciplined Action
Fifth of Five Articles
By Beverly D. Flaxington
November 16, 2010

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Instead of listing what you need to do in a given day, month or year, consider looking at your desired outcome and approach for getting there and then breaking it down into very discrete components. For example, if you assert, “My solution to reach my desired outcome is to hire a new operations person,” that would typically go as a single item on a simple to-do list. If we break the goal down, however, we see there are many steps involved in hiring this person. You must create the job description and a compensation plan, figure out how to find candidates, conduct interviews, figure out your plan for reference checking — and on and on.

When you take disciplined action, you must look at break your plan into the most discrete steps possible. When I teach this process to college students, I tell them they should present a plan of disciplined action that their mother could read and implement! It needs to be that simple in its final form. After all, it’s not just you who will be implementing this plan. Each person involved in reaching the desired outcome should know exactly their responsibilities, timeline, and budget.

The process could end up on a Word or Excel document with columns of “Step,” “Who,” “Budget,” “Deadline,” and “Potential Obstacles.” Share this document with everyone in the firm so that each person knows what is expected, from whom, and when. In a best-case scenario, the team should be meeting on a regular basis to review the plan and see if they are staying on track.

It’s important also to compare expectations to reality. For example, was a certain amount budgeted for one step only to see unexpected costs crop up? Was it planned that something would take one week, but it took four weeks instead? Use the plan to measure and make corrections as you continue to implement your roadmap.

Most people and firms do not accomplish what they want to because they are not working with a clear, understandable plan of disciplined action. In my own experience, having such a plan makes the difference between accomplishing what you set out to and continuing to have the same goals and objectives year after year with no accompanying results.

Don’t take another step toward your desired outcome, and don’t work from your to-do list, until you have had the chance to get very granular about what, who, how, when, and how much your goals are going to require.

The S.H.I.F.T. Model for Success™ works for those who follow the steps I have presented. Best of luck as you work toward your desired outcomes in the remainder of 2010 and in 2011.

Beverly Flaxington is Principal, The Collaborative and Advisors Trusted Advisor.  She has 16 years of experience working with advisors on a day-to-day basis, has been an Interim Chief Operating Officer at an advisory firm, is a college professor teaching management and Leadership and has general experience helping individuals and organizations to make change.

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