In many – perhaps even most – situations, the biggest and best wins are usually those that take a lot of effort, resources, and time. But even there, taking steps to deliver a quick win or two can offer some important benefits:
- Building or reinforcing your confidence.
- Demonstrating your abilities and competence.
- Providing a solid basis for increased motivation.
- Starting or strengthening important relationships.
- Gathering low hanging fruit.
- Testing new waters before diving in.
- Setting the table for further accomplishments.
Here are some suggestions for deciding where to aim your efforts in hopes of achieving a quick win:
Look for Ripe Targets
The very nature of a quick win means you don’t have time for extended run-ups and preparation, complex programs of action, or drawn-out development schedules. You want to be in and out with a win before anyone can say “Jack Robinson.”
For this reason, you want to find a goal that offers significant impact for relatively little effort. You can often find such goals in:
- Cost-cutting or productivity-improving efforts that promise rapid results.
- Surveys and audits to gather helpful data.
- Polishing off nearly-completed projects.
- Simple, tangible changes.
- Concrete problems with one-step solutions.
- Small, self-contained projects.
- Previous work that can usefully be repurposed or updated.
It’s also helpful if the quick win you try to deliver supports or achieves some larger meaning or purpose, rather than just redesigning a bureaucratic reporting form or moving your desk from one side of the room to the other.
Once Over Lightly
Because you’re looking for quick win here, you don’t want to go deep into the weeds. Instead, stay focused on rapidly getting to the goal. If the details are too important, you’ve probably selected a poor target for a quick win.
For example, suppose you’re sizing up a quick win with a survey of sentiment on an issue. You’ll want to select a subject that requires only a few basic questions, along the lines of:
- “Are you in or out?”
- “Which of these few statements best expresses your attitude?”
- “Are we generally headed in the right direction?” or
- “What is your most important concern?”
If the topic requires a laborious, detailed, nuanced survey, it’s a candidate for a longer-term win, not a quick one.
Take It Easy
It’s also important that you chill out rather than pile-drive during the quick win process.
For example, you don’t want to charge toward a target that requires you to steamroll or persuade other people to get them on board. It’s better to select a goal that everyone involved already accepts, appreciates, and wants to see succeed. This way, you’re not wasting time and energy battling opposing forces.
In addition, you don’t want to get bent out of shape by criticism of your quick win target or the way you’re pursuing it. Because you’re aiming for a quick win, most criticism won’t have time to slow you down anyway. In addition, in most cases delivering the quick win will neutralize any superficial criticism.
Spread the Word
Once you accomplish your quick win, don’t be shy about sharing news of your success. Take appropriate steps to let other people know what you’ve done, and how it’s likely to make things better in the future.
In an organizational environment, send out a memo, put up a poster, and/or offer someone an award for their contribution to your quick win.
In a less formal environment, make sure the people already in your corner learn about what you’ve done. They will naturally share your good news within their own circles. You can also bring up your quick win in various conversations, thanking people for their help, or pointing out how your accomplishment makes some other good result more likely.
Of course, your effort to book a quick win is no substitute for good, hard, in-depth, long-term planning and work. It’s just that accomplishing a quick win in certain situations can help set you up for seriously important, strategic success in your work and your life.
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