25th November 2015

Making Progress

For a long time there has been a plaque on my office wall which reads “Happiness comes from progress. Progress shows up in the form of growth and a sense of contribution”.  I don’t know where the quotation came from initially but it remains there because I believe it to be true.

Personally I always feel at my most happy and my most fulfilled when I am making measureable progress. My business is all about progress, of growing the business leader to grow the business. The symbol that is a fundamental part of our branding is the spiral, symbolising never ending progress in an upwards direction.

It seems that I am not alone. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer in their book “The Progress Principle” studied 12,000 days worth of evidence from 238 people in 26 project teams across 7 companies in 3 industries before being able to write in such an informed manner about what they call Inner Work Life and The Progress Principle. They talk about the power of meaningful accomplishment and the importance of providing nourishers and avoiding toxins.

I will come back to some of the key concepts of the book in another blog, but given the importance of progress to a healthy inner work life and my recent blogs on worthwhile work and scoreboards I wonder how many leaders reading this blog have a process for actively nourishing the people that they lead, for systemising the way we help ourselves and our teams to be able to plot our progress insistently consistently and persistently.

The second item in our weekly meeting is always an exercise called LB & NT where together we list all of the things that we liked best (LB) during the week just gone. Every week we can call up, and write on the board, at least 10 things that have gone well, achievements that we have made or our clients have made. This is a very simple and highly effective way of helping us all see the progress that we have made, individually and collectively during the last week.

The weekly repetition serves to reinforce the fact that we are constantly moving forward and doing worthwhile work. Incidentally the NT stands for next time. What would we do differently next time? The two or three items on that side of the flipchart are part of our constant improvement process, which again leads to even more progress.

My question is what mechanisms do you have in your business to help you and your team to be able to plot their progress?