In last week’s post we talked about why we don’t do what we say we will do. I offered that commitments made in those moments of inspiration and passion (which are the perfect time to commit) may not always be thought through in such a way as to give them the best chance of being delivered.

The antidote I offered to not doing what you said you would is the following:

1. Create a structure to support you/your team to deliver

2. Create a high level strategy for what and how you will deliver

3. Create milestone deliverables against which to measure progress

4. Create actions and practices that are likely to produce the outcomes to which you’ve committed

You’ll note that each of those steps have the word “create” in front of them. Here’s Google’s definition of create:

bring (something) into existence.

synonyms: produce, generate, bring into being, make, fabricate, fashion, build, construct

Which means that these things don’t exist until you and your team bring them into being. With each unusual declaration (those commitments that you don’t already know how to do or what to do, but you’re inspired to go for them anyway), you and your team will need to generate a new pathway forward to have a chance at doing what you said you would do.

Before we start any of the steps, you must have the following in place and crystal clear:

Define very specifically what you said you would deliver, by when you will deliver and to whom you will deliver the result. This is critical. If you aren’t specific and you don’t have a firm delivery date, everything else you do will suffer from the same lack of clarity. Once this is clear and the team is aligned on the specific result and the date by when you have committed to deliver it, move to Step 1. 

Step 1: Create a Structure

Structures are the organizing components of how you’ll work together. Without the structure, you have people doing things, but cohesion is usually missing. This can make it hard to prototype and move forward from failure or to the next success. Without a structure, the odds are high that you’ll be unable to do what you said you would do.

There is always a structure to how we work and there is a default structure that will assert itself – this is the structure that is already there. Your default structure may be there because you’ve worked together before, or your firm is always organized like that, or you’ve succeeded before using this structure – but it isn’t thought out for the new deliverable. The default structure hasn’t been examined for fit against this new unusual commitment.

The structure you create needs to answer the following questions:

  •  Who’s accountable for the overall result in this endeavor?
  • What are the interim results that need to be produced? Who is accountable for each of those?
  • How will we work together? (Weekly status meetings? Quarterly presentations? Everyone works out of the “war room”?)
  • Which status (or other) reports are important to us? How will those get delivered and when?
  • How are each of the team members held to account? Or, how do they demonstrate they are holding themselves to account?
  • What is our process for handling any unexpected problems or obstacles that show up?
  • Does this outcome need us to divide into any subgroups?
  • What regular practices are required for and from each team member so that they are supported in their accountabilities and able to execute with extraordinary quality?

What workable structures have you created for delivering your unusual commitments? Which haven’t worked as well? What kinds of individual and group practices have you designed? Please comment below.