Lessons from the Nantahala: Action Steps

July 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Recently my wife, Debbie and I went white water rafting on the Nantahala River in Bryson City, NC. What a great experience! We are pictured above in the middle of the raft crossing a Class 3 rapid. Click here for more information about the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

However, to navigate our raft safely across the Class 2 and 3 rapids we all had to work as a team and follow the instructions of our leader. For the 3 hour rafting experience, our leader was a young man from Alabama named Jon (great name don't you think?). He's actually pictured above in the back of the raft. Jon would shout out the commands to either all of us, or just to the left or right side. His commands were short and direct, but when we all followed his directions it led to a great white water experience.

I like to call this short precise commands Action Steps. As leaders, we need to bring this management tool into the DNA of our organizations. Action Steps are the most important components of any project. It's the oxygen for keeping projects alive.

No Action Steps = No Action = No Results!

The actual outcome of any idea is dependent on the Actions Steps that are captured and then completed by you, or delegated to someone else. Action Steps are to be revered and treated as sacred in any project.

The more clear and concrete an Action Step is, the less friction you will encounter trying to do it. If an Action Step is vague or complicated, you will probably skip over it to others on your list that are more straightforward. To avoid this, start each Action Step with a verb. Below are a few examples:

  • Call programmer to discuss . . .
  • Install new software for . . .
  • Research the possibility of . . .
  • Mock up a sample of the . . .
  • Update XYZ document for . . .

Verbs help pull us into our Action Steps at first glance, efficiently indicating what type of action is required. For similar reasons, Action Steps should be kept short.

The more clear and concrete an Action Step is,

the less friction you will encounter trying to do it!

 


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