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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

How Success Is Sustained

Updated: Feb 19

Imagine you are driving down a beautiful country road. Your speed is perfect – just fast enough to make good time, but slow enough that you can appreciate and enjoy the turning of the trees, the beautiful skyline, and the flowers along the roadside. You have found a balance of speed, efficiency, and enjoyment.

To find more of the same, you keep the foot on the gas, applying just enough pressure to maintain speed, and an ability to respond as needed. After all, you would never take your foot off the pedal since invariably you would roll to a stop. Obvious, right?

So why then, do teams, or projects, when hitting their sweet spot and beginning to flow with innovation and success, suddenly release pressure on the gas pedal? I see it all of the time. Not only do teams, and programs, begin to dwindle, but the details are dropped, shortcuts are implemented, and people seem bewildered as to what happened.

For almost 20 years, my job was to develop and implement large multidisciplinary programs. We experienced great success. These teams were responsive, nimble, cost-effective, and represented the best of medicine. Plus, it was really fun. When I decided to leave, I assumed I would be hiring my replacement. The person whose job it would be to attend to the details, to move barriers, and to challenge assumptions. The person who kept the foot on the gas. I was wrong. 

Surprisingly, they didn’t hire a replacement.

Since the program was running so well, “it didn’t need anyone.”

Take a moment to imagine what happened next.

Efficiency, growth, and excellence don’t happen in a vacuum. Success is created and maintained because someone assumes responsibility for the details. Details, which are subtle and often unrecognized, are the invisible threads that hold the fabric together and maintain quality.

Resist the urge to let off the gas.

“Cruise control” does not exist within teams.

As programs develop, we focus on the tactical processes. While this is understandable, there is more to consider. For sustainability, courageous leadership needs to be integrated into the equation.

As I say, “The devil is in the details.” It is not sexy or glamorous, but it is the backbone of success. 

Maintaining relationships, focusing on support, asking other questions, anticipating needs and barriers, and leading with positivity and vision, day after day, is a necessity. 

This is the recipe for sustained success.

My Challenge to You: 

  • Have you appointed someone to hold the tension for detail, accountability, and innovation? I would suggest this be one person who is ultimately accountable.

  • As your program reaches success, have you integrated a sustainment plan and identified what might fail if left unattended?

  • See success as a long-distance run. If you sprint at the outset, you will burn out. Slow and steady, baby, slow and steady!

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