This article by Tony A. Rose first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Business World Magazine, a publication by Russell Bedford International.
We all have elephants – professional or personal problems, needs or truths that we ignore, usually to our detriment. In Say Hello to the Elephants, I offer a powerful system for confronting issues, along with tools to address problems, achieve clarity, and make decisions. I call this system Quadrant Thinking. In this, the third of four articles, I present an overview of Quadrant Three: Implementation.
In Quadrant Two, we looked at solutions and how you reach the goals you defined in Quadrant One. In Quadrant Three we look at implementing your solutions. That’s it. Just implement.
On the surface, Quadrant Three can appear to be the easiest of the four quadrants, assuming you’ve done Quadrant One and Quadrant Two properly.
Quadrant Three also can be most difficult if you are happy to stay in the planning stage, thus delivery and potential examination and criticism. Implementation is also the graveyard of procrastinators.
Overcome these barriers, and you will be well on your way to implementing your solutions.
Pushing against gravity
Change in itself is difficult. It can be uncomfortable and even a bit scary. But to achieve success, you must leave your comfort zone and change your routine.
However, external forces, much like gravity, have a habit of keeping you where you are. So how do you push against this gravity? Your first tool is to make the transition part of your solution. In Quadrant Two, plan out the steps of implementation. By doing this, you can eat the elephant one bite at a time – much easier than trying to implement the whole solution in one sitting.
But sometimes a clean break is more effective than a gradual transition. Some solutions need the ‘Big Bang’ approach. Knowing whether to go gradually or all at once can be intuitive, or you may need to think it through; either way it is a critical part of implementation.
Just do it
Procrastination is one force that can stop you from implementing your solutions, and it often comes from a feeling of being overwhelmed by the size of the task in hand. So how can you fight procrastination? Identify a small part of the overall task, and then do it.
Using a process
The concept of using a process is critical to Quadrant Thinking, which in itself is a process that moves you from A to B to C to D.
For a successful implementation, you need to take control. If you do not create a formal plan that contains the steps that move you from one point to another, you open yourself up to disappointment. Remember: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Your written plan must be specific. By committing yourself to the planning process, you ask yourself all sorts of questions; the answers to these questions become the tools you need to implement your plan.
People who are accountable are far more likely to achieve their goals.
Accountability can appear in several forms. It may be a promise you make to someone who then holds you accountable. Openly declaring your goals creates accountability. It might even be as simple as promising yourself a reward when you reach your goal.
The key is to make sure the stakes are large and worth striving for. If you dangle a meaningful carrot, you and your team will jump to action.
Combating buyer’s remorse
If your implementation begins to feel difficult or complex, you may have buyer’s remorse. This may be because you haven’t yet found the right solution or you have insufficient clarity. The solution to buyer’s remorse is simple: return to Quadrants One and Two. Get clarity, define your goals clearly and specifically, and create your plan of action.
Act on the results of your Quadrants One and Two planning, and you will implement your goal. Do not allow yourself to be diverted; if you do, get right back on track.
Remember: If you don’t quit, you haven’t failed.