Imagine if this month you asked your travel agent for help “planning a vacation”. What would they come back to you with? A sunny escape somewhere warm at an all-inclusive?

What if instead you’d asked specifically for the vacation you really had in mind: to get your family “to Disney on my son’s birthday next year for the Electric Light Parade.”

In the first case, the agent might spend a lot of time surfing the web, collecting travel brochures for you and putting their own lens on what ‘vacation’ means to them. When you checked in on progress, you’d be appalled at their lack of apparent Productivity, which can be defined as making progress towards what really needs to be done – your Disney trip.

They may have worked efficiently, quickly identifying a variety of vacation options and they may have very effectively collected comprehensive information, but neither of those translates into true productivity when they’re going in circles.

The Organizational Octopus

It’s the same thing when employees are given a job description but are not engaged in developing specific objectives on what they need to do this week, this month, and this year to move the organization forward, where they fit, and why they matter.

You end up with the Organizational Octopus, where every leg is squirming furiously in different directions towards its own objective, draining productivity right out of the organization because the octopus is going nowhere. Can you see the visual? Now, consider the streamlined shape of the giant squid. It’s the fastest creature in the ocean when all its tentacles are aligned and propelling it towards its objective.

Engagement and productivity can be improved by having the senior team to lead by example by aligning the tentacles, and that means taking a new approach to streamlining and communicating fewer, more valuable goals.

Right now, look at how many “To Do’s” are on your Strategic Plan. If there are more than 7, the research shows that you’re unlikely to achieve ANY of them, let alone all of them. That type of Strategic Planning is outdated, reflecting an era when 10 or even 20-year plans could be developed with some certainty.

It’s Time Transform the Organizational Octopus into Outstanding Productivity

The way we increase work productivity when I work with clients is to update their approach to Strategic Thinking instead of Strategic Planning. We create a clear goal for the distant future, but we make it real by having a Theme Statement for the year and no more than 7 Key Objectives, each with only 1 person accountable for delivering results. That individual then gathers the key resources required, and together they create a plan for how they’re going to get there that clearly identifies what each person contributes, how they fit, and why it matters. Each individual develops what I call a Performance Alignment Commitment Tool or PACT, which breaks their work down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly objectives so that they can hold themselves accountable for staying on track, course-correcting when required, and delivering the required outcomes.

All the legs of the octopus are aligned, pushing in unison to move it in the right direction, increasing productivity in the workplace. Each employee is focused on the task at hand, and because they are steadily moving in the right direction, they’re productive. Busy work tends to fall away with this process, priorities are clear, and results get delivered.

Is it time for you to tame your organizational octopus? If you’d like to get clarity on where you’re at now, where you want to be, and what gaps and roadblocks are standing in the way, please book a no-obligation 1-1 Best Next Move Accelerator call with me. Clarity creates possibilities. Let’s go find yours.

#1 Bestselling Author, International Speaker, and Accelerator Anne C. Graham is on a mission to help 5 million business leaders and their teams double their profit per employee – or more – in less than one year, in less time per week than they’re spending on email per day. Her new book Profit in Plain Sight includes the 5-step proactive P.R.O.F.I+T Plan to do it.  Connect with Anne on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.