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Kyle Hermans, Synecticsworld

By Kyle Hermans:

Kyle Hermans is Senior Director of Innovation Capacity at Gap Inc. Global, and headed the West Coast Division of Synecticsworld at the time of this article.

The Power of Small Wins is the process of working at the heart of a complex challenge backwards: If I put myself in the position where I’ve solved it…  then, what happened before in order for me to get there? You start peeling it back and breaking it down.

Let’s say you want to win an Olympic medal at Tennis, but have never picked up a tennis racquet.

What is the very first thing that you have to do? Go and buy a racquet, then:

  • Get the right gear
  • Start lessons
  • Actually get on the courts
  • Start integrating the routine into muscle memory
  • Learn what it means to play the game
  • Start entering competitions

You do all of those kinds of things until you progress to achieving that really big goal, winning the gold medal.

“Champions know there are no shortcuts to the top. They climb the mountain one step at a time. They have no use for helicopters!” – Judi Adler

A lot of the time we’re either working with a client, group, or organization who has an intricate complex challenge.  Often the enormity of the challenge can overshadow the desire or need to go after the challenge, because the goal looks so big, so hairy and so audacious (BHAG).  It just feels so unobtainable in a rational way of thinking that our natural human responses like fear or anxiety stop us cold.  We want to meet this challenge and achieve this goal, which sounds very esoteric and exciting.  But that is usually overshadowed by the practicalities of just how far away it seems.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu

The whole premise of the Power of Small Wins is coaching that a small win can be just as big as solving the challenge itself: Breaking it down and looking at your complex challenge as a series of smaller challenges to overcome.  Keeping the big challenge in mind, you realize that if you start focusing on the smaller, short-term things, you’ll increase the probability of actually get there more successfully. You’d probably be enrolling more people than if you just say “This is what I’m after” and then dealing with the repercussions of people’s anxiety around it.

The whole premise of the Power of Small Wins is coaching that a small win can be just as big as solving the challenge itself: Breaking it down and looking at your complex challenge as a series of smaller challenges to overcome.  Keeping the big challenge in mind, you realize that if you start focusing on the smaller, short-term things, you’ll increase the probability of actually get there more successfully. You’d probably be enrolling more people than if you just say “This is what I’m after” and then dealing with the repercussions of people’s anxiety around it.

At the beginning, when you first declare your challenge you will likely have great support and hundreds of people may say “Fantastic, I love this idea, i’m in!” But by the time you are actually standing at that final solution, you may be left with 5-10 of the original supporters.

So what needs to be present in order to enroll others to collectively take that first step?

  1. Alignment on a clear objective: getting the focus on the big hairy audacious goal and a best current thinking of what the small wins are it will take to get there.
  2. Climate, thinking and action: Aligning with a team that can build a great climate and consistent energy around your initiative. Who can come at your goal with a fresh approach to thinking about how to achieve it and the small wins that lead to it. Alignment around actions that need to be taken to support each other on the journey ahead.
  3. Plan, do and review: Plan your steps, create guides for yourself and they do the plan to best of yours and your teams ability given the moment and then review how that worked, what worked well and what do we keep or shift as we move t the next step.
  4. Roles and responsibilities: Having clear definition of roles within the team and the responsibilities that go with that role so as to keep the collective moving towards solving the challenge.
  5. Celebrating small wins: There is no denying that celebrating success together builds a bond that creates a more aligned team and a motivation to take another step together.

This one step… choosing a goal and sticking to it – changes everything!

What is going to be your next small win?

“Courage is one step ahead of fear” – Coleman Young

Synectics training, facilitation training, innovative solutions, innovation training,

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