How many of us have ever been to a conference or read a new business book and felt like - "I want to do that!” But, you have no idea where to start, or there were simply too many ideas and changes gathered from the event that it seems overwhelming to go home and do everything at once. Many of our new Rhythm clients experience the same feeling. Once they get a sense of how powerful the Rhythm platform is and how it can help them with everything from their long term strategy to their day to day activities and make connections and build alignment and collaboration around everything in between, they are eager to do it all at once. But, it is important to remember that change is hard, and it is impossible to drink from a fire hose and bring about effective, lasting improvements in your organization. Change works best when you take it one step at a time. As they say, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
We use the term Path of Progress all the time in our consulting practice. In the introductory chapter to his book, Rhythm: How to Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth, Patrick describes it in this way: “Our most successful clients document a simple path of progress (POP), allowing them to focus on a few things versus many things. The POP unburdens you from feeling like you have to get to every improvement immediately. Instead, it gives you confidence as you plan a path forward, focusing on a few things at a time."
This simple idea can help you implement new systems or ideas in your business in a way that is manageable, sustainable, and scalable. In fact, even if you aren’t undergoing any changes, you should always be working on a path of progress for your business; otherwise you are stagnant and the innovators and fast growth competitors out there will pass you by.
How do you use the POP to help you scale your business?
- Build strong execution habits.Your team can’t adopt all of our best practices for strong execution habits at once. When we bring on a new client to our Rhythm software platform, we always start with the executive team only and work with them to get a solid quarterly plan. Once they have a good plan in place, we help them get into the habit of effective Weekly Adjustment Meetings. We teach the executive team how to use Red-Yellow-Green and dashboards as tools to hold each other accountable and have the right discussions without using them as weapons or forms of punishment. We help them feel comfortable and confident solving problems together as a team, documenting and keeping accountable to completing action items, and collaborating with each other between meetings to make adjustments faster. Eventually, we help them get into a Think Rhythm to work on strategy (and we have POP for that, too, as I explain in the next bullet point), teach them to cascade their new Plan and Do Rhythms to their departments, and communicate their plans effectively to everyone in the company. But, we start from the beginning and usually focus a full quarter on just the Plan and Do Rhythms at the executive team level.
- Work on strategy. Hopefully, you are involved in a weekly Think Rhythm to step outside of the day to day operations and work on your business. There are so many ways to use this time (to work on advancing winning move ideas, to solve specific opportunities or threats, to determine or refine core elements of your long term strategy like core values, purpose, or BHAG, etc.). You need to think through a path of progress so that you aren’t tempted to tackle too many of these items at once in your Think time. You should be focused on one or two things at a time (prioritizing what’s key to work on now), and the other strategic items you need to work on should go into your POP for next quarter or next year even. If you have a Rhythm consultant, he or she will discuss your path of progress with you each quarter and help you diagnose which strategic topics would be most important to focus on next.
- Grow your leaders. Spend time thinking through the future of your organization and what it will look like in 3-5 years with the revenue growth you are projecting. Do you have the leadership team in place to run a company that may be double in size from where you are now? Each of your executives should have a learning path of progress to help them develop any skill or leadership gaps they may have to work on before they are ready for their role in your future organization. Start working on developing them now.
As you can see, the path of progress sounds simple, but it can be a powerful tool for you as you grow your company. Documenting your path of progress in any of these areas helps you focus on one thing at a time without losing the bigger picture of what you’re trying to accomplish in the long run. If you write down everything you are hoping to get done over the course of the next year (focusing on 1 or 2 things at a time), then you can free up your brain to not worry about what’s next, just work on what you need to focus on now so that you can continue on your path.
Because this is such an important part of how we work at Rhythm Systems, we are also including the POP in our first ever Breakthrough Execution Conference in October. If you come to our conference with a business problem to work on, our consultants will help you leave with a path of progress to address it. We hope to see you there!