Effective Execution

January 9th, 2013 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Action - (2 Comments)

Effective Execution“Success comes from transforming thoughts, ideas and opportunities into action”. John Kapeleris

Despite the emphasis on taking massive action and getting things done as the cornerstone of success, we continue to make new year’s resolutions that dissipate within a few weeks of starting the new year. Individuals and corporations find it difficult to effectively execute personal and strategic initiatives. Although we have clear goals and objectives, detailed plans and the commitment to achieve the results we want, we continue to struggle with effective implementation. Therefore, what can we do to implement effective execution in our personal and business lives?

Gilbert, Buchel and Davidson in their book “Smarter Execution: Seven Steps to Getting Results” identify seven steps to achieving effective execution:

  1. Focus first – Focus can provide clarity and at the same time magnification of the tasks we want to achieve. If we focus on the high value tasks that will make the difference in our work and personal lives, then we can easily execute our plans.
  2. Pick the best possible team (resources) – You need to have the right skills and capabilities for effective execution. If you are assembling a team of people ensure that you have the correct alignment of skills with the tasks required. If the skill set is not available internally then it should be outsourced.
  3. Set the course – You need to set a clear direction of where we want to go and develop clear execution steps that remove confusion.
  4. Play to win – The team and its members need to possess a winning spirit. Strong personal motives can drive projects and tasks to successful completion.
  5. Think it through – You need to think through the foreseeable future steps and have in place alternative courses of action. Mental rehearsal provides a clear pathway but at the same time can anticipate potential impediments that can be overcome in advance. It is important to think through the resources required, reviewing the key success factors and being prepared for any risks for the upcoming execution steps.
  6. Get all aboard – Every team member must be committed to the vision and direction of the project. Communication will be an important factor to ensure the team is informed of the progress against the agreed vision and direction. Any deviation should be evaluated, agreed and communicated to the team.
  7. Follow through – One of the critical steps in achieving effective execution is the follow through. The lack of follow through could certainly guarantee failure.

Wishing you a happy, prosperous and successful New Year 2013!

Dr John Kapeleris

 

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Productivity in our work and personal lives involves focusing on the key goals and objectives, developing a project plan, identifying the key value-adding tasks, and executing the plan by taking action. It may come as a surprise that many people struggle with this basic approach to achieving personal productivity. Many reasons can be identified for losing focus and not taking the appropriate action to achieve the desired outcomes.

The first issue lies within our minds. The human brain, although powerful and complex, if not trained appropriately can only handle a limited number of tasks at any one time (the literature generally states about seven tasks or pieces of information). As the brain becomes overwhelmed and stretched to perform, it begins to forget important items in the process. The brain does not generally think sequentially or in a linear manner. It thinks more in a random or radial manner.

The second issue involves interruptions from colleagues, unscheduled meetings, the telephone, email or the influence of external people. Interruptions should be avoided and removed from your daily work environment. This can be done by closing the office door, finding a quiet place to concentrate, checking emails at specific periods of the day (morning, midday and late afternoon), making all your calls in the morning and late afternoon, and delegating as many tasks as possible.

The last issue involves lack of clarity and focus. Focus can be achieved through concentration and structured thinking. The mind has to be reinforced that focus and action are the key drivers to achieving successful outcomes from a project. In addition, clarity can be achieved by removing the clutter and blocks that exist in our minds.

Following are the key steps that will increase your personal productivity:

  1. Use structured thinking to provide clarity and focus
  2. Focus on the key goals and objectives
  3. Develop a project plan and identify the key value-adding tasks
  4. Assign time limits on each of the tasks
  5. Take immediate action
  6. Maintain the self-discipline

We all struggle to remain productive and achieve optimal outcomes. The key to success involves focus and action.

Dr John Kapeleris

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I am going to stop putting things off starting tomorrow.” Sam Levenson

Procrastination is defined as the act of replacing high priority and important tasks with tasks of a lower importance, or delaying the actioning of important tasks to a later time. Procrastination may occur for a number of reasons, including the fear of failure, anxiety in starting or completing tasks, the need for an adrenalin hit as a result of self-imposed working under pressure, ineffective decision-making, perfectionism and ‘planning fallacy’, which means underestimating the amount of time required to complete a set of tasks.

Procrastination is very common amongst the population with many people procrastinating to some extent. Humans generally have a tendency to replace important tasks with tasks that are more familiar or fun to perform. Chronic procrastination is a more severe form that can be very damaging to a person’s life or career.

A number of steps can be implemented to manage or deal with procrastination:

  1. Recognising that you are procrastinating – You need to be honest with yourself in order to recognise that you are procrastinating. Characteristics of procrastination include: focusing on low value tasks and actions, being engulfed by your emails throughout the day, getting ready to begin an important task and becoming immediately distracted, waiting for the perfect conditions to begin a project, and keeping tasks on your To Do list for some time even though they were marked as ‘important’.
  2. Understanding the reason why you procrastinate – The mind has a tendency to convince yourself that a valid reason exists to procrastinate, often involving subconsciously lying to yourself. The reasons why you procrastinate could be due to either the type of work involved or your beliefs and behaviour. One of the reasons why people procrastinate may involve the work not being interesting, or a feeling of being overwhelmed by the tasks. Other reasons can include being disorganised which can result in anxiety in starting or completing tasks, or having a fear of failure/success stopping you from engaging the work. Being a perfectionist will also result in procrastination because perfectionists wait for the right conditions before they begin a task, or they try to achieve  the most perfect outcome thereby never actually completing the task. The final reason for procrastination relates to ‘planning fallacy’, which means underestimating the amount of time required to complete a set of tasks resulting in a delayed or slow start to actioning tasks, thereby escalating the required effort towards the end of the deadline. This is common with many university students who undertake assignments and examination preparation, and is often labelled as ‘Student Syndrome”. No matter how much time is provided for the student to complete their assignment they will take all the available time and end up cramming all the work just before the due date for the assignment.
  3. Implementing strategies to deal with procrastination – A number of strategies can be employed to deal with procrastination:
  • Keep a To Do list and ensure that you complete the required tasks quickly and efficiently
  • Break down the activities into manageable tasks in the form of an action plan that can be tackled quickly and easily
  • Utilise an Urgent/Important Matrix to identify high value tasks

  • Implement a reward system that is linked to the completion of important tasks
  • Start some easy tasks every day to fuel your momentum, which then allows you to tackle the larger more important tasks
  • Focus on goal setting, scheduling and planning to streamline your project management skills
  • Employ a mentor or coach to help you overcome procrastination or to encourage you to maintain your momentum on a particular project
  • Tackle the worst task in the whole To Do list first thing in the morning (e.g. Brian Tracy says ‘Eat the Frog’ – since this is the worst thing you could do everything else should be easy to undertake)
  • Repeat the cycle for 20 days so that it becomes a new habit

The longer you spend time without procrastination the better chance of breaking the habit.

Dr John Kapeleris

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You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.” — Gandhi

We are fast approaching Christmas and this is always a sign that we have once again reached the end of another calendar year. I always find the end of the year to be a time of reflection and review. It is also a time to evaluate the progress of your life purpose, goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year or the longer term goals set in previous years. Your life purpose, goals and objectives should be part of your Personal Development Plan.

The end of the year also offers a fresh start for activities that we had intended to do but never got around to doing them. Although I had previously stated that any day can be the start of the rest of your life, the end of the year can be a special time because it can provide closure to outstanding action items that may no longer be relevant, but also removing limiting beliefs by leaving them behind in the current year. The dawning of a new year provides the incentive to start a fresh action list and the motivation to get things done.

Many people make New Year’s resolutions, however, they quickly discover that the resolutions fade even before the first quarter of the calendar year is reached. It is not just about making New Year’s resolutions at the dawn of the New Year, it is about making a committed effort to set written goals and objectives for the coming year and for the medium to longer term timeframe. Numerous studies have shown only three percent of the population set goals and only about one percent actually write them down.

I challenge you to make a committed effort, that is, take ACTION, to review your previous goals and objectives, and/or to set new goals and objectives for 2012. Begin by identifying the major achievements and highlights for 2011. These could include work achievements, financial objectives, family highlights, personal development, educational achievements or personal success outcomes. Achievements should also be acknowledged and celebrated to ensure mental reinforcement and capitalizing on the motivation that this can provide to your subconscious mind. I try to reward myself when I achieve a particular goal or objective. For example, I will buy a gift for myself that reminds me of the success that I have achieved, or I will organise a special holiday trip for myself and my family. In early December of 2011 I took the family to Hawaii for 17 days to celebrate a very successful 2011. In previous years I bought myself a Tag Heuer watch to remind me of a successful multi-million dollar deal I had closed in the year.

I use a visual journal with white pages to document my goals and objectives for the new calendar year. Once I complete this activity I then develop Action Plans for the major goals and objectives. Throughout the year I periodically review my goals and revise any action plans that are not progressing as expected. You should also prepare a vision board which consists of a portfolio of visual material or a collage of images that portray your vision, goals and objectives. The vision board helps to stimulate your reticular activating system in your mind to reaffirm your subconscious.

Like most people I also identify a few missed opportunities or disappointments for the year. This allows me to learn from the experience so that I can strengthen my future plans moving forward. Go ahead and document the missed opportunities and disappointments. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities or overcame the disappointments?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. Don’t spend too much time regretting the missed opportunities. The rest of your life starts now, therefore focus on your future goals and plans for 2012. Some of these goals could also be carried over from 2011. Particularly goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

I had also previously posted a number of blog entries that can provide further detailed information on developing your goals and objectives (see below). Furthermore, I have included a Personal Development Plan Template that may also be used as a guide.

What are your key goals, objectives and action plans for 2012?

Have a merry Christmas and I wish you every success for the New Year in 2012!

Dr John Kapeleris

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The first quarter of the calendar year has now been reached which is an excellent time to evaluate the progress of your goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year or the longer term goals set in previous years.

Many people who made New Year’s resolutions, instead of writing down their goals and objectives, and developing plans, will now be discovering that the resolutions have faded, even before the first quarter of the calender year is reached. It is not just about making New Year’s resolutions at the dawn of the New Year, it is about making a committed effort to set written goals and objectives for the coming year and for the medium to longer term timeframe.

I challenge you to make a committed effort in the next week to take ACTION to review your current goals and objectives. If you haven’t set written goals and objectives for 2011 it is not too late.  Following are a number of blog entries that can provide further detailed information on developing your goals and objectives:

You may want to use a visual journal with white pages to document your goals and objectives. Once you complete this activity you need to develop detailed Action Plans for the major goals and objectives. This will ensure that you have the best opportunity to begin implementing your plans.

Furthermore, I have included a Personal-Development-Plan-Template that may also be used as a guide.

What does your personal development plan look like?

To your success for 2011 and beyond!

Dr John Kapeleris

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The start of the New Year is a signpost that always brings a feeling of a new awakening and subsequent change.  Many people will set New Year’s resolutions that will not be followed through. Others will continue doing the same old thing and getting the same result. A small percentage of people will set new written goals and objectives, and develop detailed action plans for their major projects, that will ultimately achieve their ambitions and success.

I came across the “10 Commandments of Goal Setting” on the GoalsGuy.com website that I thought may be of value to you:

  1. Thou Shall Be DecisiveSuccess is a choice. You must decide what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it. No one else can, will, or should do that for you.
  2. Thou Shall Stay Focused – A close relative to being decisive, but your ability to sustain your focus from beginning to end determines the timing and condition of your outcomes.
  3. Thou Shall Welcome Failure – The fundamental question is not whether you should accept failure. You have no choice but to expect it as a temporary condition on the pathway of progress. Rather, the question is how to anticipate failure and redirect resources to grow from the experience.
  4. Thou Shall Write Down Thou Goals – Your mind while blessed with permanent memory is cursed with lousy recall. People forget things. Avoid the temptation of being cute. Write down your goals.
  5. Thou Shall Plan ThoroughlyPlanning saves time and resources in execution. Proper planning prevents poor performance.
  6. Thou Shall Involve Others – Nobody goes through life alone. Establish your own “Personal Board of Directors“, people whose wisdom, knowledge and character you respect to help you achieve your goals.
  7. Thou Shall Take Massive Action – Success is not a spectator sport – achievement demands action. You cannot expect to arrive at success without having made the trip.
  8. Thou Shall Reward Thyself – Rewards work! Think of what you will give yourself as a result of your hard work, focus and persistence – you deserve it!
  9. Thou Shall Inspect What Thou Expect – The Shelf life of all plans is limited. No plan holds up against opposition. Everything changes. Therefore inspect and review frequently and closely, it’s an insurance policy on your success.
  10. Thou Shall Maintain Personal Integrity – Maintain your commitment to your promise. Set your goals, promise yourself that you will achieve them. Eliminate complacency and excuses. That’s personal integrity!

Start today, and set your goals and objectives that will influence the rest of your life!

Dr John Kapeleris

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Having a well articulated and proven implementation process will ensure that any system, plan or method is implemented appropriately.  Implementation (or deployment) of a system, plan or method is commonly viewed as the execution of a series of related activities, each activity termed an implementation stage. Implementation is the action that follows any preliminary thinking in order for something to actually be achieved. The implementation approach will be dependent on the particular system, plan or method being deployed, however, a number of broad steps can be used to guide an implementation process, including:

  1. Initiation – Determine the key strategic objectives of the implementation plan.
  2. Key Processes or Activities – Identify the key processes or activities required. You may need to investigate the “as is” processes (current situation) and then design the “to be” processes (desired situation) that may be required; particularly when new processes are being considered through a change management or process improvement initiative.
  3. Identify Tasks – Under each process identify the tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve the strategic objectives. Undertaking a Risk Analysis at this stage will ensure that any risks are identified and a risk management plan, with contingencies, is developed.
  4. Action Steps – Each task may be subdivided into further individual sub-tasks or action steps. Breaking down the tasks into smaller sub-tasks allows focus and therefore easier implementation.
  5. Assign Responsibility – The next step is to assign responsibility for each sub-task to a specific human resource. The human resources may be internal or external. The assignment of the task should reflect the best person able to complete or deliver the task. The composition of the team is important for successful implementation.
  6. Prioritize – Activities or tasks need to be prioritised to reflect the most important tasks that need to be completed, or specific tasks that need to be actioned before other tasks can begin. Some tasks can be scheduled in parallel to reduce the overall time.
  7. Timeline – The time required to complete each task must be estimated in advance. The forecast will need to be as realistic as possible, but allow some flexibility should any issues arise. The addition of the time required to complete all tasks will translate to the total project time.
  8. Cost & Budget – The costs to complete each task must be calculated in advance and an overall budget should be assigned for the implementation plan. Costs should not only include time, but also additional resources or tools required during the implementation stages.
  9. Do It! – The key to successful implementation is taking action and executing the assigned tasks as outlined in the implementation plan. This step is always crucial for successful implementation.
  10. Review and evaluate – Finally, the implementation plan will require continuous monitoring and review to evaluate progress. Any issues or delays encountered will require modification of the original implementation plan.

The action plan template can be used as a tool to assist with recording actions and tasks, assigning responsibility, confirming the due date and setting priorities.

“Success comes from transforming thoughts and ideas into action”.

Dr John Kapeleris

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“Genius (success) is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”  Thomas Edison

Having the right mindset and attitude through positive thinking is the first step to achieving success. However, ultimately achieving successful outcomes will require action through the power of positive doing.  Success will only emerge from the actions you implement in life, once you have taken the opportunity to think about what you want and then plan what you are going to do.

Positive doing is about being motivated to take responsibility and to action a number of activities that result in progress along a planned roadmap or action plan. Even though we may deviate from our initial plan the key to success is the power of positive doing.

Tips to becoming more positive in life:

  • Focus on positive thoughts and remove any negative thoughts from your mind
  • Take responsibility of your life or someone else will
  • Find your direction and sense of purpose in life
  • Be assertive by cultivating your self-confidence
  • Value and respect yourself to improve your self-esteem
  • Face your fears and challenges in life as a first step to releasing your negative blocks
  • Get involved and make a contribution through the actions you take
  • Enjoy and celebrate your achievements

Positive thinking must be followed up with positive doing. Although I am a strong advocate of positive thinking, this alone will not achieve the outcomes you desire. You must act upon the positive thoughts, ideas and plans that you establish by implementing positive action.

Following are the ingredients to implementing  a positive action plan:

  1. Determine the goals and objectives
  2. Define the “what, who, when, where and how”
  3. Identify the specific tasks and sub-components
  4. Determine the key milestones
  5. Assign responsibility for each task and the timeline required
  6. Implement tasks and monitor progress
  7. Revise any tasks as required and celebrate the outcomes

You can use the following template to develop and implement your action plan.

The key to positive doing after establishing your action plan is to just START. Many people fail to execute their plans because they don’t start implementation for a number of reasons, including procrastination, not knowing how to begin, wanting everything to be perfect, mental roadblocks, or fear of taking action.

To implement a “positive doing” strategy in your life you must:

  1. Start your action plan
  2. Begin taking positive action steps
  3. Maintain self-discipline
  4. Persevere
  5. Periodically stop to reflect and evaluate
  6. Continue to drive your actions
  7. Check off your milestones

Dr John Kapeleris

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We have now reached the middle of the calendar year which is a good time to review your major goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year, and determine progress along your personal development journey. I challenge you to allocate some time and action this important task. Your goals, objectives and personal action plan are not set in stone. Circumstances change and new opportunities emerge that you need to consider and build into your plan.

If you have maintained a journal to document your action plans for your major goals and objectives, and tracked your journey and progress, then this will be the first place to start. Alternatively you may have your action plan documented in electronic format or you may be using a task list. Review the action plan for each of the goals and objectives that your set to determine your progress; whether you need to focus and give more attention and time to your plan, or whether you need to revise or delete a particular action plan. Add a review note next to each action or task. I usually use a “Status” column where I add the words: Completed, On target, On hold, Needs revision, Delete task or New task. If a task or action needs to be revised then I document the necessary changes. Most of my revisions relate to the due date for the task or action, particularly for goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

If you have missed certain opportunities then you should ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities that would have added value to my personal and professional life?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. This could include learnings such as:

  • Focus on the specific goal or action,
  • Allocate more time to a particular goal,
  • Take action – “Just Do It”,
  • Invest more time to personal development instead of wasting time on non-value activities, and
  • Seek assistance from mentors, peers or role models

I also review my journal entries that I have recorded, particularly the ideas and information I have captured over the last six months. The ideas and information can be quite valuable for further reflection and implementation. Who knows; one of your ideas might be the next “blockbuster” product, service or business opportunity! The recent review of my journal entries identified thirteen new business opportunities that I have extracted and recorded separately. I am now in the process of developing individual goals and action plans for each of the business opportunities. Many of the action plans will concentrate on undertaking further research followed by conducting a feasibility for the business opportunity, while other action plans will be in the form of implementation plans.

As I have stated previously “The rest of your life starts now!”, therefore focus on your future goals and plans, and don’t spend time regretting the missed opportunities of the past.

What does your revised personal development plan or life plan look like?

Good luck and I wish you every success for the remainder of 2010!

Dr John Kapeleris

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What is Success?

February 4th, 2010 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Success - (1 Comments)

Success means so many things to different people. For many, success is about achieving financial freedom in their lives and having the time to do what they enjoy doing. For others, success may involve achieving harmony with their mental, physical and spiritual aspects of their life. Success can also mean achieving the goals and objectives that you set out for your life journey and achieving the outcomes that you anticipated.

Your own idea of success may be a combination of the above, but the key will be to make it happen now!

Three Steps to Success

I have tried to simplify the process of moving to the next level of personal development and achieving success in your life. Having read numerous books and listened to a number of audiovisual programs on success I have reduced all the different approaches to three key steps in achieving success:

  • Think – positive mental attitude, beliefs, creative thinking, intuition, dreams and desires, subconscious programming, visualisation
  • Plan – life purpose, goals and objectives, commitment, detailed action plans
  • Do! – positive doing, self-discipline, taking action, implementation, evaluation

Although all three steps are important to achieving success the emphasis should be on the “Doing”. Ultimate success comes from the actions you implement in life once you have taken the opportunity to think about what you want and then plan what you are going to do. Success is a journey therefore you need to start working on it now. Today is the start of the rest of your life.

Many people spend a lot of time thinking and dreaming of success without actually planning and putting into action their plans. Don’t get me wrong. Thinking and having a positive mental attitude are important precursors to success, however these alone won’t pull you through. I can now understand why Thomas Edison stated that genius (success) is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

What is your definition of success?

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