June 18, 2009 Chris Fuller

Checkpoints: Keys to Achieving the Dream

There’s no good way to sell a team or yourself on running 1100 miles. On the other end of the spectrum – if you’re just going to the corner market – you don’t need a tremendous team OR strategic planning.

“The C in R.A.C.E. stands for Checkpoints.”

Being able to break down an incredible vision, mission or even a project into goals, steps, and processes is a key competence for a leader that gets things done. Benchmarks and checkpoints along the way allow us to measure our progress and make needed corrections early enough to ‘stay on course’. Again, you may or may not know, there are 20+ checkpoints in the Iditarod and all serve a purpose on the way to achieving the dream. For each segment, the terrain is different and that piece of the journey can stand on its own. String enough of them together and you’ve done it!

For those that recall the HAB 22 model vision execution model, the B 22 stands for Break the vision down – break it into 22 pieces, if you have to. So, it helps when we break up our vision or dream into 20+ segments (training runs). The reason I like calling it training runs is that it needs to be broken down into its’ simplest form – simple enough for your team to run with it. There is a reason relay races are run with a baton and not a shopping cart! Simplicity increases speed and at each handoff – you can evaluate your progress.

Practical thoughts in creating checkpoints:

  1. Constantly be thinking next logical step (see yesterday’s post)
  2. Consider time as an element (we could run the race over 3 months – but everyone will have gone home!)
  3. Consider your resources (Resources are not finite and we need to know what we need to do in order to get more – so that we can continue the race)
  4. Employ ‘A before Q’ thinking (when thinking in steps consider which comes before what and work to make sure we keep dogs before sleds – or A before Q)
  5. When will you and the team rest / recreate? (At some point we need rest in order to complete the marathon. It is not practical nor healthy to build your plan around all members of the team running until they burn out. Giving the team time to rest and regenerate will produce the best results in the long run.)
  6. What will you eat for nourishment along the way? (feeding the team physically, mentally, and emotionally are critical)
  7. What will you be judged on? (In order to finish you need to stay in the race – if your boss, board of directors, bankers, or family have criteria that need to be met along the way – meet those! This is Iditarod Leadership – doing life and business for the long haul!)
  8. Keep Score (tying in with #7 – in order for us to know where we are, what progress we’ve made, where we are in our race, where we stand in relation to our competition, being able to evaluate present performance against prior and desired performance)

At each Checkpoint, or at the end of each segment, so that you can run the race next time better, you have to take the Checkpoint to evaluate your experience over that terrain, and Evolve. Evolve is the last component in Race and that is tomorrow’s topic.

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