Camille Rapacz: Hello podcast listeners and welcome back to another episode of the Belief Shift Podcast. Today is another summer shorts episode, so it is just me, your host, Camille Rapacz. I'm a business consultant and leadership coach for those of you who might be new to the pod, and usually I'm joined by my lovely co-host, who also happens to be my brother George Drapeau.
But he is not here today because, well, I gave him the summer off so I could do some summer short episodes on my own and he will be back in I think just a couple more episodes.
So today I wanted to talk to you about something that comes up often in the podcast, which is sort of a core aspect of the coaching and consulting work that I do, and it's called P D C A or this cycle of improvement, P D C A, standing for plan, do check and adjust.
This is a really important framework that you can use in any aspect of your work. Whether you're a business owner or a leader in business, you plugging this into everything that you do can really amp up your performance. So I'm gonna talk about that as well as touching on the role of lagging and leading indicators in this process.
So here we go. P D C A is a cycle of improvement and it does apply to every level of an organization. So whether you're leading or working in the business. This applies to you. It can be applied to your annual or strategic plan and goals. You can apply it to project level goals. You can apply it to daily, weekly personal planning. Like what am I gonna do today?
And here's what that might look like. So from a strategic or an annual planning process, you, you, you set these goals for the year. I wanna achieve X amount in revenue. I've got these projects I wanna get done. I've got levels of, you know, customer satisfaction that I wanna hit.
You've got these different targets you have for the year. Once you do that, you set out to do the work, right? So now we've, so we've done the plan, the P part of P D C A, now you're gonna move into the do part. A lot of people make the mistake of kind of stopping there, or maybe they don't stop there, but they do too much doing before they check.
And that's usually because, you know, our human nature is, I just wanna get to this next milestone before I check on how things are going. But that's not the right way to do it. That is not going to help you make progress faster. I know why we do it. For so many of us, we just wanna get to that next mile marker before I slow down and reflect on anything.
What we really need to do is force ourselves to stop and check on our progress at certain timelines along the way, and not based on just a point of progress I've made in the project. So when you're doing your strategic or annual planning process and you have those goals, you should be checking on those on at least a quarterly basis, doing a quarterly business performance review.
But also you should be reviewing aspects of your business performance on a monthly basis. So quarterly and monthly reviews. Of the performance to your goals is really important in order to hit annual goals.
You know, this applies both to personal goals and business goals. This is just the way you should check in on the progress in order to give yourself a better chance of achieving them.
'cause you know that's a long time to have a goal set out for a 12 months later. It almost seems like you have all the time in the world when you first set them and then you get six months in and you realize, holy cow, I don't know if I'm gonna make it.
In order to stop that whole cycle of I am not gonna hit my annual goals, you want more frequent checkpoints because the next step after check is adjust. Now you have a chance to see how can I make an adjustment to give myself a better shot at actually hitting this goal? You can do that using a little process called stop, start, continue. Is there something I should stop doing that's maybe getting in the way or isn't helping me make my goals? It's just extraneous. I don't need to be doing it. Is there something I then should start doing that will help me achieve my goals faster? And then what should I continue doing 'cause it's really actually helping me achieve my goals and I need to keep doing it. So that's a nice way to think about the adjust part is how can I do just a quick stop start, continue on what adjustments to make.
And then you keep going. So if you're doing this in a quarterly business review or a Q B R, then you can make your plan for what do I need to accomplish next quarter? And what adjustments go into that plan based on everything that I just reviewed in the check process. Now that's what you do from a big strategic or annual planning process.
In your project, it is virtually the same thing, just maybe on a different timeline. So if I have a project it's according to a certain timeline. That's the nature of projects. You want to get X done by Y time. So let's say your timeline is five months. If it's five months, you might want to then look at, checking on your progress on not just a monthly basis, because that's only gonna give you a few checkpoints along the way, but even doing it on a weekly basis and that weekly progress check can really help you make adjustments fast.
Because on a project, you've got a whole list of steps and actions that you need to take. If you're running that inside a company, you might have a team that's helping you with accomplishing this project, but whether it's a project you're doing on your own or a project you're doing with a team, You want a weekly check in on how much progress did I make on the project this week, and how much of that progress is matched to the plan?
So did I get the work done that I have planned to get done? And if not, in that check process, now you decide what do I need to adjust next week? Do I need to bring some more people in to help me achieve these goals? Again, you can use the stop start, continue. Do I need to stop some of the activity in here that maybe was nice to have?
But I mean, let's face it, every project has a little bit of fluff in it. That was nice to have that maybe I didn't need, so maybe I get rid of some of that. What do I want to start doing? What kind of changes do I wanna make? And then what do I continue doing that's actually working for me? So that's how it works inside a project.
Same process, just maybe to a different timeline, but the timeline is important. Notice I didn't say just check to a project milestone. I said, check according to a regular cadence, a regular schedule of checking on what's happening in the project.
Now when it comes to daily and weekly planning, let's say you're just planning your day, you plan your day, and you know, I always like to have people planning with their, what are your top three things that you need to get done today?
What are those most important priorities? You got a whole long list of stuff you wanna do today, but there's probably three things that really make a difference. Now, oftentimes what happens is we work on the easy stuff first, but if you have those top three, then you can say, okay, well how did I do?
So you're gonna start doing throughout the day. Maybe you got two of the three things done. If you check on that progress at the end of the day and not just end of the week, you might be able to make an adjustment tomorrow that helps you get those priorities done. You could also do this on a weekly basis, so if you prefer to say, I've got my top three priorities for the week, then you could check on a weekly basis, did I get them done? And if not, what do I need to do next week?
Regardless of how you do that, the important part is that you're actually checking on this. Continuously on the right frequency. So if it's daily, you wanna check on a daily basis, and if it's weekly, you wanna check on a weekly basis. What am I learning about my ability to achieve my priorities on any given moment, whether it's on a daily or a weekly basis, you're gonna check on your progress.
At that point, you're really gonna do some reflection on what's getting in my way. Then you can make some adjustments on a stop start, continue basis. Well, what should I stop doing? Oh, maybe I should stop spending so much time on social media. Oh, maybe I should start using a different technique for focus at my desk so I can get my work done.
And then what should I continue? Oh, I should continue doing my P D C A process because that's helping me with getting my priorities accomplished on a daily or a weekly basis. That's an example of how it works at that scale.
So you can see it's the same cycle and process. You are just going to do it on different timescales based on what the size of the goals look like.
Now let's talk about the role of leading and lagging indicators in this. First, I'll give you a quick definition.
A leading indicator is a short-term measure that's predicting a future outcome. So these are predictive measures of future performance. They're not perfect predictors, but they are informing you of what future performance is likely to look like.
A lagging indicator is a longer term measure, and it's gonna show what's already happened in the past. So a measurement of past performance. So a few examples of this would be, let's say you were working on losing weight. So a leading indicator would be the calories you're taking in per day, and the lagging indicator would be the number on the scale when you weigh yourself. If you're talking about safety inside of a company, then your leading indicator would be the frequency, the usage of safety equipment. So say how often everybody's wearing hard hats. And then the lagging indicator would be the actual number of accidents or incidents, safety incidents that occur. From a financial standpoint, this would look like a leading indicator would be the number of leads that are in your sales pipeline, and then the lagging indicator would be the revenue total. How much money did I make in this quarter or this year?
So those are some examples of leading and lagging indicators. Both are very valuable. Lagging indicators are the easier ones to come up with. Leading indicators can be much trickier and harder to come up with. Also, to come up with ones that actually are giving you the information you need to make good decisions.
The reason I bring this up is because when you get to the check process and you're checking on, how am I doing, especially when you're looking at making business goals happen, you wanna identify both a leading and lagging indicator if you can. Because if I get to the checkpoint and all I have is a measure of past performance and I don't have any predictor of the future performance, I may not make all the adjustments I need to make that ensure I make my goals.
So let's take the financial one as the example. If I looked at my quarterly performance and my revenue totals, and I could see I was off target, say I'm, I've only hit 70% of my revenue total that I wanted to hit for the quarter. That tells me some information. I have a gap I need to close, but what I also need to know is what do things look like in the future? Is my potential to make sales trending upwards or down or flat. So I would want something like, well, how many leads do I have in the sales pipeline? Did that grow over the last quarter? Or did it stay flat? Is there some indicator here of what future performance would look like?
You have to put all this data together to really assess what's going on so that you can make the right adjustments. But I think you can see here why it's so important that you think about both of these indicators as you're looking at what kind of performance am I experiencing today and what kind of adjustments do I need to make tomorrow?
So with that, you are now armed with a very straightforward framework, P D C A for how to improve on anything that you're working on, personal or professional, by the way. And all you wanna think about there is what is the right cycle of checking and adjusting that I should do?
Is it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, but make it on a timeframe not on a milestone basis so that you are just consistently checking on the progress and adjusting accordingly. When you do that, make sure that your check process whenever you can, includes both a lagging and a leading indicator so that you're measuring not just what already happened, but you're also looking as best you can at what you think is going to happen in the future, and then you can make your adjustments from there.
All right. That is all I have for today. I hope that you feel like you're prepared to go out there and do some cycles of improvement as rapidly as possible, because the faster we can improve on things, the faster you're gonna reach your goals, and that's what we're all about.
If you have any questions or comments or thoughts about this topic, or maybe you have some new topics that you'd like me to cover, leave me a voicemail at thebeliefshift.com.
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Finally, if you are loving some of this content, but you need a little help, maybe you have some questions.
You're looking for some support in how you implement some of these things in your own world whether you're running a business or you're a leader in business, let's chat. You can book a free consultation using the link in the show notes. Just click on that and we'll meet up for an hour and see what's going on and how I might be able to help you. Feel free to book that free consultation using the link in the show notes. All right. That's all I have for today for our summer shorts. There will be one more summer shorts episode next week, and then I think I'm bringing George back because I think we're gonna be at one year of the podcast. I know. I'm very excited. All right. Thanks everybody, and I'll be back in your ears next week.