Yesterday we started tackling the 10 leadership lessons we can take away from COVID field hospitals as shared by Richard Bohmer and team in a recent Harvard Business Review article. We covered 3 of the 10 and today we are going to tackle 4 more: don’t delay, shorten feedback cycles, change direction quickly, and set expectations.
- Don’t delay. Specifically, don’t delay in making hard or tough decisions. When you are running fast, trying to generate traction in your business, you can’t slow it down by taking forever to share unpopular news or to take hard action. The faster you can make those decisions and forge ahead the faster you are going to be out of the unknown and into a routine of success.
- Shorten the feedback cycles. Get immediate feedback from you customers, from your employees, from anyone this change or new project is affecting. How is it going? What needs to be better? You can collect data daily. Don’t wait 2 months to listen to it. Establish a weekly review of that feedback, daily is even better if you want to pivot quickly. But don’t wait to find out what you can improve upon, learn it and do it. Speed matters in business, just like it does in saving lives.
- Change direction quickly. If you tell everyone it’s ok to fail fast and you are listening to their feedback, do something about it quickly. Make it part of your culture to positively support changes in the direction of the project, program, or business. You can say it, but do you show it? Model it and make sure everyone sees it in action so they will push to give more candid feedback that will do nothing but make you product/service and your business better. That’s your goal. Egos go out the window here. It’s all about the business results as a team.
- Set expectations. Richard and team said that while it’s good to have the freedom to try things and fail quickly, that will come at a price. No doubt for them, the ultimate price is loss of lives in this situation. For you, it will be loss of revenue, loss of employees, loss of customers, etc. Not as detrimental but it is detrimental to your business as a whole. To that end, you have to clearly define what “failing fast means.” And it means, trying to get a positive end result, using all of your knowledge, competence, and capacity to generate a positive result. Failing fast because people gave half of themselves or didn’t try, didn’t care, or didn’t put forth effort isn’t the same and should be clarified and established as such. Set expectations about what daily success looks like and what failing fast really means and what has to happen for someone to appropriately fail fast vs. simply failing.
Can you see how important these leadership lessons came into play in COVID field hospitals? Can you see the impacts they had on people’s lives? In the same way now, can you see yourself defining these lessons in your own business and putting them into action to help you achieve your vision for 2021?I look forward to sharing the final 3 lessons with you tomorrow.