Stay on Course

On Monday, we blogged about the importance of aligning your daily activities with your team’s objectives in order to avoid becoming lost at sea. To read more, click here! Today, we’re giving you 3 steps to help you stay on course as you navigate through fair or rough seas.


Begin by knowing the role of your team in the context of the larger team or division of which it is a part. Secondly, specifically identify the objectives of your team in that context—that is, know how your success fuels success for the larger group of which you are a part. Ideally, the strategy for fulfilling these objectives would be created by all the team members (after all, you have them on your team for their expertise). However, as a third step, even if you are making a top down strategy decision, each member should be able to articulate the team’s basic strategy for success, and they must be able to give the shared definition of success for that team in terms of deliverable objectives.

In order to put the individual team members’ activities in context of the team’s objectives and strategy, some managers will go so far as make a list of objectives on one side and a list of projects on the other. If you are unable to draw a solid line between a project and an objective consider refocusing or eliminating that project. This kind of activity is an additional means to drive home the point that projects and their associated activities must be in support of a shared and pre-determined objective. Whenever an individual makes a choice of how to use their time or create a product, for example, they should be measuring how impactful that choice is toward meeting the objectives of their team. This is a powerful means by which to set priorities when our schedule is overloaded.

Even though they knew the message in the beginning, the crew must be constantly motivated by their captain with a reminder of the objectives and the definition of success. Additionally, given the rough seas of customer needs, occasional threats of mutiny, and budgetary winds failing to fill the sails, we must also constantly revisit the original objectives and strategy in order to keep the team and individual activities aligned and within the context of their next higher level. While the ship does have a steering wheel, it is critical that the change of direction be purposeful and toward a destination known by all.

Jonathan Shaver