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The Battle Between Activity & Action

It’s become very clear that there is a big difference between activity and action.

When you are involved in “activity” you or your team members are moving, chatting, planning and/or meeting about business impacting actions you plan to take in the future. You are catching up on your emails and reading your text messages. Activity has to happen and can be productive as long as it leads somewhere.

I was chatting with a colleague recently and he said that he sometimes feels like he is spending his time “moving around air” but not actually getting results. His air moving is definitely an activity, and I hope it eventually gets from air to something more substantial like water or earth!

Conversely, when we take action, we are attempting to do things that move the needle on our business results. By taking action we can influence or impact. We move from just being busy, to adding true value.

  • Sometimes, I believe we spend too much time in activity mode. We set up groups, workstreams, project plans and an ongoing meeting cadence. We create beautiful Powerpoint slides to share with the executive team. We make sure we have the right project manager or executive sponsor. We revel in the fact that everything is buttoned up and neat.
    • Yes, we do need to do these things, as long as we get to the action phase soon.
  • I would rather see us act in a messier or “less precise” way. We might not have all the right slides and we may not meet every single week at 2PM on Thursday. We might have some bumps along the road and some sharp edges.
    • But if our messier approach leads to more action, I think we should take it!

Action is what helps to improve the employee experience. Action leads to a better customer experience. If our employees and customers are happy and engaged, I expect positive business results (sales, revenue, profit) to follow.

As you reflect on your day, week or month… are you managing your processes or managing the business? Are you really busy, or spending time on actions that will impact and influence?

“Action Smartphone Displays Acting To Reach Goals” by Stuart Miles