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The Addictive Tyranny of Quick Wins

Prioritising opportunitiesHere’s the thing about “quick wins”: they’re rarely quick, they’re never as big as you think they’re going to be, and they’re about as uninspiring as they are undemanding.

They’re tempting to do because you know how to do them; you’ll have something to show for it; and you’ll feel successful.

But the problem with this easy gratification is there will always be more quick wins where they came from and you’ll never move on to the big stuff. The chart above is fast and easy to use, and will help your team avoid the tyranny of quick wins. The whole exercise takes around 30 minutes. Here’s what you do:

  1. Stick the chart on a wall
  2. Write your opportunities on some post-its
  3. Estimate the value and difficulty of each opportunity
  4. Stick them in the appropriate place on the chart
  5. Pick just three to five, starting top right, then moving top left.
  6. That’s it. Put all the other post-its in a box for next time.

It sounds easy because it is. The hard bit is making these biggest opportunities happen, and the one thing that will make that even harder, is getting distracted by the small but easy wins in the bottom right. Small and easy is an endless stream of convenient distraction from the big things that would inspire your people and really turn the dial. Everything starts small, but starting things that will only ever be small is a huge waste of time and talent.

Bottom Line: In 1962 JFK inspired a generation with these words:

We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills”.

Which projects will inspire your organisation to be the best it can be?

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