Ever moved? Wrapped the flatware and taped and labeled the boxes? It wasn’t moving the sofa and the bookcase and dining room table that almost broke you – you had friends, pizza and beer when that went down. It was disassembling, organizing and cleaning the fridge that killed. Or it was the ancient college papers, photo albums and misc camping gear strewn in the attic that had you cursing. Or maybe the loose hardware in the garage that you finally just swept up and threw away because you couldn’t think straight enough to organize it. After the pizza and the friends are long gone and the house appears virtually empty, it was that last 2% that sucked your energy and time. It was the lonely, dirty work that had to be done to get to closing.
When you moved you didn’t have a choice, closing day and walk-through with your buyers was looming. At work, think of it the same way: closing day is coming. The law of the last mile is finish what you started, take ownership, execute, get ‘er done. In Tim Sanders’ new book, Saving the World at Work, failing to finish affects more than you might think. Lack of execution on stated goals can infect a culture with an implicit suggestion that abandoning projects is OK, and can become anticipated. Tim cites Tom Peters’ suggestion that every project be outfitted with a 2% person – someone who owns that closing 2%. A cleaner.
And if you want to work and play and collaborate in a culture that covers the last mile, show the way. Or as Jim Kouzes puts it, “Model the Way.” Because leadership is the relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow. And believe, if you choose to lead the last mile, they will indeed follow because nothing inspires like finishing.
To cross the last mile, build both transparency and accountability into your projects. Keep progress highly visible to avoid starving the project of energy and to maintain momentum. And build accountabilities into the system so everyone understands the clear contributions and role they play.
Learn the Laws of the Saver Soldier