Whether it’s reading articles, books or magazines or listening to audio books (at 2x speed), I try very hard to absorb as much information as possible.  It’s my intention to cover a wide swath of literature – but in actuality, the majority of what I read tends to be quite focused on non-fiction business-type books.  To those of you who enjoy reading fiction or novels (note – based on what I know about my blog readership, I doubt there are any of you out there), I suspect these books would be quite boring.  However, I take great pleasure reading about the experiences of others in business and comparing those experiences to my own.  I look at the whole thing a bit like school – going to work every day is like going to class.  Reading is like homework.  It’s probably safe to assume that most of us would have learned significantly less in school if we never did homework – right?

In my reading, every once in a while I stumble upon a gem of knowledge so great I can’t help but share it here.  This week, I’m reading Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.  In his book, Goldsmith talks about all of the things that managers do wrong.  There are some obvious ones, like taking credit for the achievements of others and not giving enough praise – but he also highlights some mistakes that are more nuanced.  One of those pitfalls is what Goldsmith refers to as executing a new project and pulling a “1,2,3,7”.  At this point, you’re probably as confused as I was when I first read this phrase (Goldsmith doesn’t explain what the numbers mean until the following paragraph either).

Every successful new project must go through seven steps in the correct order.  If any steps are omitted, skipped, or misplaced – the project will fail.  The steps are as follows:

1. Assess the situation

2. Isolate the problem
3. Formulate a plan
4. Woo up to your superiors
5. Woo laterally to your peers
6. Woo down to your direct reports
7. Implement the plan

A common mistake is for managers to go “1,2,3,7” – missing the crucial steps of pre-selling their superiors, peers, and direct reports on their plans.  When I saw this list – I stopped reading and went back, re-reading it over and over until I had it memorized.  I suppose I knew this all along – but regardless, I wish someone had given me this list three years ago.

How to Launch a Successful Project
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