How Too Much Focus on Results Hurts a Transformation

We’ve all heard it, and certainly the Wall Street Analysts pound the drum. “Focus on Results.”

While this is crucial to short term, bottom line performance, I believe it creates a barrier to an organization’s ability to drive long-term transformational change.

From a cultural perspective, I look at this as a continuum between learning versus accomplishment. Worst-case scenarios are at either end of the spectrum. If your culture values only learning,  you may never accomplish anything. On the other hand, if your organization only values accomplishment, or results, you may repeat similar mistakes over and over without knowing what is happening.

There must be a balance. Effective cross-functional teams take the opportunity to pause  key-points in their process to step back and assess lessons learned and how to adjust the plans accordingly.

Focusing purely on accomplishment can create a scenario where you might miss important changes in the environment. Worse yet, if you have a high-risk culture, it hinders your evaluation of lessons learned.

How do strike this important balance between learning and accomplishment?

  1. First, make your own assessment about your culture. Do we take time to learn? Do we have mechanisms in our transformation projects to pause to evaluate? These can be as simple as occasional project reviews where you ask questions about how the team has applied learnings from challenges along the way.
  2. Implement post project lessons-learned activities where the team shares both positive and constructive feedback. Ensure positives are reinforced and constructive items are folded into upcoming initiatives.
  3. Reward your leaders and teams for striking the appropriate balance. Again, accomplishment is important, but not at the expense of learning how to improve.

I’ve worked with organizations that fell too far on both sides of this spectrum. Organizations that were more focused on learning spent a little too much time philosophizing, creating challenges in meeting deadlines. Organizations more focused on accomplishment stumbled more than it needed to in executing large projects.

Assessing your culture and doing something about it doesn’t have to be difficult. There is a free assessment on my website that you can use to assess your culture.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

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