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What 10X Winners Do to Keep Their Chance of Winning High

What 10X Winners Do to Keep Their Chance of Winning High

In 1985, Coca-Cola made the decision to switch their formula, creating essentially a different-tasting soda product. They called it New Coke. The sweeter version was arrived at after 190,000 nationwide taste tests that cost roughly $4 million. The result was not positive. Coca-Cola drinkers didn’t like the new taste — 39% or so were extremely loyal to the original — and Pepsi, their biggest rival, was able to say “The other guy blinked.” (That means Coke had reformulated to taste more like Pepsi.) The entire experiment lasted all of 79 days before Coke switched back to the original formula, which it now was calling Coke Classic.

    Coca-Cola is a very successful company, but in this specific case, they failed badly. Why?

    Fire bullets, then cannonballs

    Coca-cola was confident about their new product so they invested a lot in it and threw this “cannonball” to the market. When customers didn’t like this new product, it means the cannonball missed the target. This brought Coca-cola a great loss at the end.

    If Coca-Cola tested their product carefully, launched the new product in only selective places, like shooting out bullets, they might not fail tremendously like that.

    This idea of “fire bullets, then cannonballs” was developed by Jim Collins in his book Great by Choice.

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    The basic principle is this: during trying times, oftentimes people look for big solutions and giant leaps. They want to show dramatic success to emerge from the failure. But that’s actually the wrong approach.

      Successful people take small steps before making big leaps.

      This isn’t just work. Think about dating, for example, you don’t often just go approach someone and ask to be super serious or get engaged. You try to start to talk to them first, then go on a few dates, and include them when you hang out with friends.

      Or think about when you’re buying a car. Very few people walk into a car dealership with no research done and spend $35,000. They visit several. They talk to friends. They do research.

      In this model, bullets are small steps to test the idea first. Cannonballs are giant leaps to make a great impact.

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      You deal with bullets first, taking small steps to test an idea first e.g. prototype, test, redesign, and test again; when you’ve got enough experience to know this idea works or is welcome by customers, shoot.

      The cannonballs stage is about scaling the idea up, publicly launching it in a wide scale, and making it loud.

      By carefully testing something before you try to make it big, you can prevent big idea failure.

      How to fire bullets

      A bullet is a small empirical test that should meet these criteria:

      • low cost
      • low risk, meaning minimum consequence
      • low distraction, meaning not having great impact on the overall

        A bullet might be a piece of research you find, or a small focus group. They come in different forms.

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        Once you’ve fired bullets and see some results, you enter into this process:

        • Assess: Did your bullets hit anything? What can you learn from the failed bullets to improve other bullets?
        • Consider: Can any of the successful bullets worth turning into a cannonball? Do you need to fire another bullet to make sure it?
        • Convert: When confirmed the success of bullets, concentrate resources and fire a cannonball
        • Terminate: The bullets that show no evidence of eventual success.

          The process of reviewing the bullets is more important than the bullets themselves. Let’s say a student gets an “A” on a test, but he cheated. The “A” might be seen as the cannonball-esque result, but the process is highly flawed and could encourage more negative behavior. Reviewing your process is crucial.

          Now let’s think of all this in terms of the New Coke marketing blunder. Before those 190,000 nationwide taste tests at a cost of $4 million, and before they launched their New Coke, they could have try out bullets e.g. market New Coke as freebies in small size and distributed to only a few shops, use different ways to test out its popularity in different regions first; before they muster all the effort to a big launch of it and had to return to use the original formula of Coke.

          Bullets first, and only then should you fire the big launch cannonball.

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            How can you do this in your life?

            Think of it along these lines:

            Step 1: Find your bullets

            • What small things can you do to test out your ideas?
            • Are they at low cost, low risk and low distraction?
            • Are there any existing ways that you can take reference of/learn from?

            Step 2: Fire your bullets and review them

            • Hit any target? if not, why?
            • What can you learn from the failed bullets?
            • For the successful bullets that hit the target, when is it time to use cannonball to hit the target?

            Again, this is about more than ideas at work. If you’re courting a relationship, bullets might involve learning about the person from their friends, setting up coffee, and sending small trinkets. The “cannonball” would be the relationship itself, but you can’t jump immediately to that. There needs to be some bullets fired first — and some might miss.

            You can learn more in Great by Choice, which argues that while we can’t predict the future, we can shape it through dedicated actions such as bullets before cannonballs.

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            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on April 8, 2020

            Top 10 Management Skills Any Strong Leader Should Master

            Top 10 Management Skills Any Strong Leader Should Master

            The newspaper headlines, blogs, social media, TV programs are talking about leaders, leadership qualities and people who occupy high positions in government, enterprises and multinational corporations more and more every day.

            We understand that all these high positions are not the main things we should talk about. Leadership is not about the profession, place of a particular person in the hierarchy of the company or government body. It doesn’t make anyone a strong leader.

            Being a strong leader means acquiring management skills which allow you to lead people, to get them to the new achievements and high results. That’s the ticket. It doesn’t matter you are a small company manager or an industry leader the next list of TOP-10 management skills will boost your effectiveness, will make you a strong leader.

            1. Always Inspire the Team

            Remember that your job is not just about hitting goals, enhancing sales or raising profits. We both realize the importance of these indicators for stakeholders and investors.

            Now let’s focus on leading your team. Be rooted in reality and always strive to give your empathy, perspective to all circumstances and situations you encounter.

            Roll up your sleeves and inspire:

            • Be visible among your staff to become their inspiration. There is no chance to be a good leader hiding in your office on a top floor;
            • Join your team to complete ad-hoc projects. Believe us, your participation and contribution is always inspiring;
            • Focus on each person’s strengths, stay enthusiastic with his/her contribution;
            • Be closer to your team;
            • Find the right words. It may be the biggest challenge of the day, the right words in a difficult situation can show that you are a really good leader.

            Need more inspirations? This article can help: The Simplest Ways To Inspire People And Change Their Life

            2. Make a Wise Delegation Your Number One Priority

            It is obvious that you can’t do everything by yourself. Moreover, you shouldn’t do that.

            Your ability to delegate responsibilities shows that you trust your staff, you are sure in their competitiveness.

            It is the best thing that you can do within a team environment. You’re able to kill two birds with one stone: you can reduce your own stress level and make the workplace more friendly showing confidence in workers’ abilities.

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            How to delegate to the right person?

            When you’re thinking about the person who will take some responsibilities consider three factors:

            • The relevance between the skills, experience of the person and the delegated tasks;
            • Working style (is he or she is a team player or independent performer; does he has goals which correspond with the responsibilities which you want to delegate?);
            • The workload of the person (does he/she has time to take new responsibilities or this delegation requires some reshuffling of responsibilities).

            Check out Lifehack’s CEO advice on how to delegate: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

            3. Stay Responsible and Don’t Blame

            Failures always happen. You need to accept this fact and learn how to overcome them. Your job is not to find who is wrong but to take responsibility together with your staff.

            Make your subordinates understand that all of them are accountable for the decisions they make. Remember that you are their leader, you should take a part of the responsibility for their actions.

            Always give them a pat on the back if you see their good results but don’t blame in case of failure. Make an atmosphere in which everyone feels your support and willingness to realize mistakes together and work on their improvement hand by hand.

            Taking personal responsibility for your company and everything that happens in it including failures will motivate your employees to follow you.

            Don’t make excuses, better do this:

            • Take your personal responsibility for the failure;
            • Try to work on the problem to fix it;
            • Think about what you should have done before to prevent this mistake and what to improve in the future.

            4. Encourage Creative Thinking and Innovations

            What is the difference between the follower and the leader? The leader always looks ahead, he is not afraid of innovations, creative approaches to management and business processes.

            Innovative and creative thinking are qualities which make you stand out from the crowd and enable your team to get 200%, not 100% of the result.

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            Don’t forget to encourage your staff because the majority of people perceive innovations painfully and adopt new rules with reluctance. It is all about phycology, a good leader should take it into account.

            Encourage creativity in your team:

            • Become a model for your staff, show your dedication to innovations;
            • Create a supportive atmosphere for creativity in a workplace;
            • Launch events and processes to find and capture creative ideas;
            • Reward fresh ideas, innovations, celebrate success with your team.

            In short, ensure psychological safety in your team, this will encourage more innovative ideas. Learn more about psychological safety here: If You Want an Invincible Team, Make Them Feel Safe

            5. Stay Positive in Any Circumstances

            If you want to be a great leader, you should understand that you need to be positive and motivated despite any circumstances.

            Even in the hardest situation, you should be an example to follow for your staff because you will be who leads the way, so stand firm and show a positive attitude.

            Always keep the lights:

            • Create constantly friendly, open atmosphere in your workplace;
            • Remain positive when things go wrong;
            • Find the ways to keep your team motivated when the situation goes in a bad way.

            Here’re more tips to help you stay positive: 11 Tips for Maintaining Your Positive Attitude

            6. Develop Your Employees

            Along with developing yourself don’t forget that without people around you and their skills the success may be not so bright.

            Thanks to the staff development, not only employees will get new skills which they can use when they write resumes, your team can make tasks easier; besides, it will foster morale.

            Use these tips to develop your staff:

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            • Turn your staff meetings into an instrument of learning;
            • Launch annual education/ training for employees with coaches, experts;
            • Encourage their willingness to develop their skills;
            • Share your own knowledge with your team

            7. Remember Your past Experience When Making a Decision

            Futuristic vision is good. But you can’t go far in business without your experience. You should make all management decisions taking into account not only your skills, statistics, ideas of key stakeholders or innovative approaches.

            You should also consider your past lessons. The right decision made at the right time has a great impact on the masses.

            Look ahead, think hard before making a decision. But after you make it, be firm and stand by it.

            Improve your decision making:

            • Trust your management vision, intuition;
            • Try to connect your present-day challenge with the lessons which you learned in your career before;
            • Better to take notes when you make important decisions, write down the results both positive and negative so that you could get back to them in the future.

            You can also take a look at this guide for making better decisions: Decision Making 101: How To Be a Successful Decision-Maker

            8. Show Your Charisma and Confidence

            As for charisma, everything is simple like wiping the window in the rain. People normally are more likely to follow the person who they like.

            Let’s remember the best leaders. All of them are friendly, close to people, well-spoken, showing care and empathy.

            If you behave in that way, your employees feel that it is not hard to reach you, they will show a willingness to follow you.

            Make confidence your strength.

            Believe in your success and your company’s prosperity, show it everywhere.

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            A great leader exhibits confidence to everyone in any situation. (Take a look at the 5 Key Traits of a Charismatic Leadership.) This will inspire your employees and give them the feeling of confidence in the future, that’s exactly what you need for enhancing their achievements.

            9. Sense of Humor Is Vital to Success

            As a leader, you need to have a sense of humor. Show it when something goes wrong and you need to encourage, relax your employees.

            The ability to laugh things off can make morale up which is so important for staff productivity in difficult situations.

            How the sense of humor can save you in some situations:

            • Humor is able to humanize you. It makes your employees feel that you are all in the same boat, boost camaraderie;
            • It is a key component of a set of empathetic leadership.
            • Humor promotes a sense of shared culture, unity in a workplace.

            10. Consider Failures as Challenges Not as Unrecoverable Mistakes

            Even if you try the hardest in the world failures will happen. Your job is to cope with them and do it with honor.

            If something goes wrong, realize that it has already happened and try to find the best solution.

            How to manage failures:

            • Remain calm, think logically;
            • Don’t stay apart from your team because it may cause the negative morale;
            • Encourage discussion, communication within the team to find the root of the problem, design the best solution.

            The Bottom Line

            It is not easy to become a strong leader, you must have a lot of qualities and experiences. You should look ahead and go beyond the frames in your everyday tasks and responsibilities.

            Moreover, you should be an example of intelligence, wisdom, honesty, commitment and dedication. And that’s why these 10 management skills are so important to master if you want to become a great leader.

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            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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