FAST: 4 Ingredients Needed To Achieve Sustainable Success

04 January 2017 -


The latest in our series leading up to the Management Book of the Year

By Management Book of the Year shortlisted author Gordon Tredgold

Having spent 30 years turning around failing projects, underperforming departments and low performers, I have learned a lot about what causes us to fail, and this has helped me develop what I believe is a recipe for success.

There is nothing that I will tell you that is revolutionary. Most people would probably come up with most of these ingredients, but the secret to success is applying all four of them together - that is when the magic happens.

The ingredients in the recipe for success are Focus, Accountability, Simplicity and Transparency.

Here are the four ingredients you need to be successful:

1. Focus

Focus is about the what; what is your objective? What does success look like to you?

Too often I work with people who are not clear about what their goals are, and if you don’t know what the target is, your chances of hitting them are low. You need to have clarity around the objective, and you need to be able to share it with your teams so that they understand it. Then you can all be pulling in the same direction.

To improve focus keep goals to a minimum, define them clearly and communicate them repeatedly.

2. Accountability

Accountability is about the who; who is doing the work, do they know what their role is, are the expectations clear, and do you have a process for holding them accountable?

Too often, initiatives fail because people were unaware of their role and without a way to hold them accountable, by the time you find out they haven’t done what you expected, it’s too late.

To improve accountability clearly define the roles and expectations of that role, communicate them and have review meetings to check progress.

3. Simplicity

Simplicity is about the how; how are you going to achieve your goal; have you chosen the simplest approach, have you explained it simply and clearly, so everyone understands?

We have a natural tendency to complicate things, and complexity is much easier to create than simplicity, so we really need to ensure we keep things as simple as possible.

Simplicity leads to understanding and understanding increases belief and belief is a big determinant in whether we will be successful or not.

To improve simplicity eliminate any unnecessary tasks. Communicate clearly and eliminate any unnecessary technical jargon. You can also ask your team to confirm their understanding.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci.

4. Transparency

Transparency is about how far; how much you need to know, how much effort is needed to complete a task and how far you still need to go to be successful.

Too often, people fail because they lack visibility into what’s needed to be successful and their actual performance.

When you have transparency, it allows you to be able to track and monitor progress, hold people accountable and to be able to make data-based decisions on what you need to do to be successful.

Transparency into performance is also a great motivator as you start to see progress being made towards the goal.

To improve transparency you need to make sure you have done enough due diligence to fully understand what’s involved. You need to create a progress plan and then track and monitor progress against it.

When you have these four ingredients, when you are clear about what, who, how and how far, this will help ensure that you’re on the road to success and that you will reap the benefits of your efforts.


Gordon Tredgold is the author of FAST, which is shortlisted in the Practical Manager category of the 2017 Management Book of the Year

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