When I was a young boy, my dad was often fond of saying; “that is a top shelf move”. Now, let me give you the background. You see the top shelf was always the place where the valuable stuff went in our house. In part, because it was hard for us as kids to get to them, but it was also a goal. When we desired a “toy” or something, my dad would buy it for us and put it on the top shelf. When we had done the things that went along with “earning” the “toy” we desired, we would hear him say “that is a top shelf move”. In time with enough of those actions, well we got what was on the top shelf! It was an invaluable lesson – work for the top shelf !! I have been truly blessed to work as a Coach where I have met some of the most dedicated and talented people – truly as my dad would say – “Top Shelf People”.
Many of these "top shelf people", I have also had the opportunity to help mentor the companies they lead, and continue to do so currently. One of the things that I tell them is that just because a business or organization is getting bigger does not mean it is progressing. A serious challenge for businesses large and small is to progress—and not just change.
In business, “change” can relate to initiating something significant which can include anything from altering work culture to embracing diversity to modifying an individual’s work tasks. The goal of “initiating significant change” is solid, and many times well founded, but it does not always mean it is “Good Progress”.
"Good Progress" is when the initiative is leading toward not such a productive altering, but one that is faithful to the wider vision, to the greater culture and the longer lasting success you, or your organization wish to experience. In business for something not to just be ‘change’ but rather be ‘good progress’ – I suggest it must have the following:
Perhaps the greatest sign of "Good Progress" is the ability to see in the development, the big picture of where the organization or team is headed, what it's capable of, and what it will take to get there. Does your change have in mind a wider, bigger, larger, longer lasting picture of your company, your organization or your team or does it just "fix" a problem you are seeing today?
As important as having a vision is, the ability to convey that vision to others is vital. "Good Progress" means maintaining a positive yet realistic presence within the organization helping team members stay motivated and engaged, and remember what it is that they are working for. Do you take the vision of the progress you wish to make and keep it before those you serve, and those who aide you in service?
"Good Progress" also means being adaptable when the situation calls for it. Nothing ever goes according to plan - whether you encounter minor roadblocks or large obstacles, you will need to be prepared to stop, reassess, and determine a new course of action. Sometimes we believe progress is a single step, but "Good Progress" in fact is many strides. Some of these steps and strides go well, and others, well not so much. Are you ready and flexible? Do you embrace that as you commence? Are you ready to revisit the altering step you wish to take and refine it some more?
Like with Flexibility, "Good Progress" will always be “underway”. It is not one single step, chapter or moment. It must be willing to find ways to develop new skills or improve upon a weakness, be able to identify and implement strategies for helping the organization as a whole grow, and, perhaps most importantly, be able to look inward and identify the areas the one beginning the “change” may need to work on - and then act on them. Are you ready for this continuous improvement not only in the idea or concept, but also in the means of how it is delivered – the people involved – including you?
Moving our focus from “change” to “good progress” - that is a top shelf move. It can be an intense time for a business, its leaders and all those associated with it. Often the one beginning the “change” can be tempted to just tell people what to do, but if it contains the above qualities then the people we desire to inspire to action (lead, do business with, etc.) must believe that our ideas, our products, our services, our leadership and our initiatives will help them to move forward – then it will really be “Good Progress.”
By the way – check out Episode 20 of our Podcast “You Can Make It So” on "What is Good Progress?" - go ahead take a listen!