Four Lists for Immediately Improved Results

By Andrew Bass | Articles, Leadership

It will take a couple of minutes to read this, and a few more to make the lists. Any one of the items you come up with could make a dramatic difference to your next 90 days, and beyond.

I’m going to suggest you make four lists, and think about them in a particular way:

1. A TO STOP list in order to release resources (time, energy, people, money etc) for more productive uses. Most organizations and individuals are doing things which, while important at one time, now no longer make sense. Ask yourself: “If we weren’t doing this already, would we start doing it today?” If not, then put it on the TO STOP list, and act accordingly.

2. A SNAGS list. Always a popular list with my coaching clients: over time, we – both as individuals and organizations – accumulate workarounds. These are temporary or less-than-ideal ‘solutions’ which become habits. In time, our repertoire or standard ways of operating are dominated by them. For example:

  • Someone is promoted to baby-sit a dysfunctional team, and then starts to acquire an empire while the fundamentals are never sorted out.
  • A hand-updated, error prone spreadsheet is controlled by one bottleneck person, where instead there should be a widely-accessible database (for which you probably already have the licenses).
  • Space is used for temporary storage but becomes de facto warehousing, while staff are crammed into an unsuitably small office area.

Make a SNAGS list, and pick off a few easy ones straightaway – it will liberate a lot of energy.

3. A very short BIG BOLD MOVES list. This one should be one to three items long: a few bold moves that if you did them would make a huge difference. I can’t be too specific as to what this might be in such a short piece, but most people can come up with these when asked. One client of mine, an ambitious and excellent professional service firm, opened an office on the far side of the world in what looked like an extremely brave move. It was actually much lower risk and higher reward than the doubters could have imagined: it made them an international firm, which gave them a certain cachet, adding to their repute and staff prospects, and really helped in the post-2008 downturn where its sales offset lower demand at home.

Your big bold moves will be particular to you, but they are probably already floating around somewhere in the back of your mind. Bring them front and centre – you may be surprised how do-able they are.

4. Drawing on what you’ve learned from the first three lists, you can finally turn your attention to a TO DO list. We all have TO DO lists, but do we honestly work through them in the best order?

Try prioritising tasks from most productive to least productive, then do the most productive first.

Unfortunately, that often means ‘most uncomfortable first’. That might mean calling a customer before scheduling an internal progress meeting, or addressing a conflict in the team before a general catch-up on industry news. Doing lower priority tasks first is often is a kind of procrastination – you can see you’ve ticked a lot of items off at the end of the day, but if they aren’t the big, often more uncomfortable ones, you could be busy doing nothing. Most people (myself included!) find that having someone to keep them accountable is a big help.

Andy’s Advice: These suggestions are extremely simple – so simple that it would be easy to overlook their power, and to say “Oh, yes. Already know that”. However, as a mentor of mine used to say: “To know and not do is to not yet know.” The Four Lists exercise is a very fast way to discover untapped value in what you already have.

Make Your Next 90 Days Count…

Find out more about my 90 Day coaching programme: Andy Bass’s 2019 Quickstart Coaching Programme.

Interesting? Call me on 07754 232 888 or reply to this email and let’s find a time to talk.

If you recommend the programme to a colleague and they sign up, I’ll be pleased to send you a signed complementary copy of one of my books (see below) – your choice which.