A simple strategy to make more progress this year than ever before

Want to blast into the new year or the next season at your company with a real bang?

Consider having an “If only…” brainstorming session with as many members of your team as is practical.

Here’s what you do:

  • Announce a week or so in advance you’re going to have an “If only…” session.
  • Tell everyone to think of their jobs and your company as they complete statements that start with the words “If only…”
  • Give them some examples, such as, “If only we had a better system of logging customer service calls we could reduce mistakes,” or “If only we had enough money to buy a better printer we could send out great looking, updated product brochures.”
  • Get everyone together for a meeting to share their “If only…” statements.
  • Capture them all and put together a team to prioritize them.

Encourage your team to think both big, small, and in between. No idea is too big – or expensive – to be considered and no idea is so small that it doesn’t have the potential to make a positive difference in your company. In fact, the “bread-and-butter” progress in companies generally happens via a continual chain of incremental improvements. This isn’t to discount the big, bold moves you need to make from time to time – they are very important – but there is no improvement too small to be implemented…even if it something as seemingly insignificant as changing the brand of ball point pens you stock to one preferred by those on your team who are constantly filling out forms.

When you have compiled your list, circulate it or even post it in a place where everyone will see it. Then start working on it. Have a way to note when initiatives are in progress and when they are completed. Seeing that you actually follow up on suggestions from your team will improve employee morale and loyalty; these improvements alone will boost productivity. You see, this system pays off in two ways: by making the improvements themselves and by boosting your team’s commitment to the success of your company.

As you go into this process, let everyone know that you don’t have any sacred cows. Just because you’ve “always done things a certain way” doesn’t mean that you won’t consider another approach to accomplishing your goals. Encourage people to look at legacy operations from a fresh perspective. Encourage people to think across department lines.

Try it. What do you have to lose? You don’t want to be sitting at your desk a year from now thinking, “If only I had held that ‘If only…’ meeting, we might have had a more robust and progressive year…”