Using Recognition to find the “Three Secrets to Success”

August 27, 2012 Darcy Jacobsen

fortune cookieMost advice about success in this world boils down to one simple maxim: use good common sense. The same is true when you’re building company culture.

That’s why I found myself nodding along with this recent article on the Forbes website, by Mike Maddock—it uses good common sense. The article, Three (Incredibly Simple) Questions The Most Successful People Use To Change The World, distills success down to asking and answering just three questions. They are, says Maddock, a “winning formula that I see leaders use again and again and again…to change the world.”

1. What’s the outcome I want?

2. What stands in my way?

3. Who has figured it out already?

This is where you might be shaking your head, saying “duh” and moving on. But hold on a minute. See, these questions are so fundamental that while we recognize the wisdom, most of the time we forget to actually ask them, never mind find answers.

As a roadmap for creating a successful company culture, they are invaluable—yet too often we are distracted by minutiae. How can you find the answers? Strategic recognition is a terrific way to keep these questions front and center, and position your organization for success.

1. What’s the outcome I want? (And how do I make employees understand it?)

What “success” means is different for every company and every culture. But the answer to this question should always be “to live our company values”. Whatever those values are, they are your company’s roadmap to success.  As you get bogged down in day-to-day tasks and objectives, you should never allow yourself or your employees to forget the outcome you’re driving toward: to bring your company values to life. Strategic recognition makes company values actionable, by mapping appreciation directly to core values and keeping them paramount in everyone’s mind.

2. What stands in my way? (And how can I see it?)

You’ll never know what stands in the way of your culture if you have no method to visualize or measure that culture. Too many company cultures operate by simply feeling their way and hoping for the best. But if you want to be truly successful, you must have a method for understanding the obstacles you face, and for diagnosing and alleviating troublespots. If you’re waiting for business results to roll in, then all of your measurement is Monday morning quarterbacking. It is already too late. An effective employee recognition program is a proactive way to gain deep insights into how groups and people are interacting and who in your organization is living your values. It gives you visibility in real time to the strengths and weaknesses in your culture.

3. Who has figured it out already? (And how do I find them?)

One way to imitate success is to follow competitors. Another, stronger way is to follow the innovators and leaders within your own organization. Here’s a hint: it isn’t always who you think it is. But how do you find these behavioral outliers? Strategic recognition uses crowdsourced data to clearly show who in your organization is influencing and driving your business. Identify these innovators within your own organization, and let them lead you to success.

So think about it. Ask these questions, and find the answers in your strategic recognition program. And you can put your organization and culture on the road to success.

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