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Clarify the Win

This post is part of a series. For others in this series, check here.

The practice of clarifying the win is all about naming the target on the bull’s eye. We’ve all heard the old adage, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Well, the alternative to that is to aim at something, and clarifying the win tells you -and everybody else- just what you’re aiming at.

Given a task or job to do, everyone aims at some goal, some outcome. As a leader, it’s important when delegating authority to give a clear goal for that individual to strive toward. If a person isn’t given a particular goal, they may still be successful, but it may be success in a wrong direction. Or successful by some other set of standards.

Without a clear ‘win’ people would have to guess about what is ‘winning’ and they may guess wrong. Not clarifying the win can cause conflict between people or departments, competition for resources, space, people…

But by clarifying the win, several important things will begin to happen.

There becomes a sense of team alignment. When pieces of an organization can see the big picture, a win in one area is a win for the entire organization. The whole team begins to see what everyone is aiming at and knows where the process is headed and what the eventual desired outcome should be.

Clarifying the win provides an advantage when it comes to resources, too. If you know the goal, it’s easier to know how to spend time and money and where to apply people gifts and talents.

Plus, it’s motivating. People like to win. And when people are winning, when they feel they are being successful and accomplishing something, it’s reassuring and brings a greater sense of fulfillment or meaning to the work that is being done.

“So, give me the practical stuff.” OK, I hear you.

Here are five steps that can be a part of clarifying the win:

1- Sum up the win in a simple phrase.
By keeping it short and sweet, it will be easily repeatable and will more quickly lock into the minds of those helping to accomplish the win.

2- Keep the win as specific as possible.
Short and sweet isn’t it. It needs to be stated specifically, too. This helps ensure that the win is in some way measurable. “Making disciples of Jesus” is too general. But if you believe that becoming a disciple of Jesus happens best within the context of community, then you may aim at something like involving people in some sort of small group environment. Also, the process of specifying the win may look something like this: what’s a win for church → for student ministry → for myf → for myf discussion leader. How does each level push toward the win?

3- Build into the environments ways to restate the win frequently and creatively.
One great way that people learn is through creative repetition. Whenever possible find ways to creatively restate or re-present the win. This helps to drive the concept throughout the organization. It also helps to keep the goal fresh in everyone’s mind.

4- Continue to meet to clarify the win at every level.
Like I touched on just above, it’s important to clarify the win at every level. Be clear about how each piece of the process builds toward the win. What is the win for a Sunday school teacher or an acolyte or any particular environment? How does that volunteer’s role contribute to the win for the whole organization? Then ask questions that coincide with the mission. Those questions will indicate the win, and people will detect that; people will redirect themselves to those questions. When you celebrate a win, people will work toward that point of celebration.

5- Plan events with the win in mind.
Perhaps for a certain event, you would work through questions like these: When this event is over, what do we want people to walk away with? What do we want people to do? What do we want to look back on? What’s the point of celebration?

The task of clarifying the win, of picking one for-sure target that everyone is aiming at, is important. It can also seem intimidating when you consider having to determine that for each piece of the puzzle. But you can’t afford not to. You can determine the win or it will determine itself.

Join the discussion in the comments section below.

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