Santosh Subramanian Director of Microsoft says even a large organization with thousands of employees across the world where usually they have a long-term vision and work on priorities over a six-month-period now realizes that in a pandemic environment people have to think about shorter sprints of prioritizing on a daily basis with a much shorter vision of prioritizing tasks in days and weeks rather than in months.
O3: Objective, Outcome and Opportunity
We don’t know what would happen tomorrow but we know what can be done today. Yes, every morning when we wake up, prepare the objectives for the day. From there list out the topmost three objectives which you would like to focus on that day.
Why Is It Important to Focus on a Day?
Simply because of the elements of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity) coming into play. Too much advance planning could lead to extreme disappointments which can lead to frustration and even depression since most things are not in our control. Take the example of a city like Chennai or Kolkata or Pune where they had lifted the lockdown and allowed all businesses to open by the first week of June 2020 only to realize by 15th of June that the cases were skyrocketing and they again clamped the lockdown on June 19, 2020 in Chennai and in different dates in other cities. Many of the business owners who had planned on a monthly basis were in a tizzy and got into extreme frustration. These are going to be regular phenomena during the pandemic times. Look at Beijing being closed down by the middle of June 2020 over a suspected second wave after coming to normalcy for three months. The same situation prevailed in countries like UK & France with the advent of 2nd wave in October 2020. These kinds of uncertainties are going to be the order of the day until we come up with a viable and permanent solution to Coronavirus.
Hence, prioritize on a weekly manner but let the focus be on the day. You can go as far as you can see and from there you can see further. What we can see is the day ahead and not the weeks and months ahead. Take care of the yards and the miles would be reached.
The things which you can control on a daily basis are the ones that need to be on your focus. Yes, long-term goals are important but let the focus be on the daily objectives.
An ideal example for the objective setting would be the Indian Cricket team captain Virat Kohli who transformed himself from a fat teenager into one of the fittest athletes in the world. After a relatively successful tour to Australia in 2012, Virat took a hard look at himself and realized that if he wanted to compete at the highest level consistently he had to change his lifestyle and stay more disciplined. In a matter of six months, he lost 11 kg and that was because every day he would focus on hitting the gym and was driven by the process.
Hence the O3-Process begins with a clear emphasis placed on the objectives for the day. O3-Process has been implemented by several thousands of my clients from the time I came out of this concept. This book itself stands a testimony for O3-Process which I shall explain later in the chapter.
2nd O – Outcomes:
The second ‘O’ stands for ‘outcomes’ that you get at the end of the day. Outcomes are of two types. The first being independent of the world’s intervention and the second one is where there is an intervention from the outside world.
Let’s say one of your objectives of the day is to jog for 50 minutes. Now, this is something which is completely under your control with minimum interventions and from the outside world. Ideally, you would be in a position to complete this objective unless something dramatic happened in your environment.
But let us say one of your objectives is to get payment from your client. Here you would need the involvement of your client and your dependency level on the external element is extremely high. You can follow-up with your client, speak with them, message them and maybe you can even go to meet them but the payment needs to be released by your client. So, you can do things from your end but you are still dependent on your client.
Another example could be that someone’s appraisal is scheduled for the day and her objective is to present her achievements nicely so that she gets a 20% hike in her salary since she feels that she had done an amazing job.
In both these scenarios, the outcomes are based on several factors over which you don’t have control. I have heard from the famous spiritual guru, Mahatria, that there can be only four possible outcomes and we need to be prepared for any of the four outcomes after having put in our best efforts and much more.
- You would get exactly what you want.
- You would get more than what you want.
- You would get less than what you want.
- You would get the exact opposite of what you want.
Let’s apply the four possible outcomes in the appraisal scenario:
- She gets exactly 20% hike in her salary.
- She gets 25% hike or gets a promotion along with a 20% hike. This is getting more than what she wanted.
- She gets a 5% hike which is far lesser than her expectations.
- Unfortunately, due to the layoffs, the concerned person lost her job, which was the exact opposite of what she wanted.
As we set the objectives for each day we would need to play the four scenarios of outcomes and be prepared with Plan B and C on a daily basis so that we are not caught unawares. Of course, when the dependence of the external forces is lesser, the ownership and responsibility lie squarely on the individual’s competence and discipline to execute the activity and achieve the objective.
3rd ‘O’ – Opportunity
The third element in the O3-Process is to look for an opportunity to execute things better or do you see scope for a larger thing or if you are in the field of sales, do you see a chance for cross-selling opportunities related to your products or services?
Let me share the experience of writing this book in relation to the O3-Process.
Realizing that by March 22, 2020, the flights to India would be stopped I flew back to Hyderabad from Nairobi on March 20th catching a flight at the last minute. I was asked to be on home quarantine. I had signed up to write a book on Public Speaking by October 30, 2019, but since I was completely occupied with consulting, speaking and training assignments and being on the road for more than 90% of the time I was hardly able to make any progress.
The lockdown had come as a blessing in disguise for me and after speaking with my publishing manager I started to put the O3-Process into practice. Every day I would set the objective of writing 2500 words and would measure the outcome each day since I needed minimal external interventions or support and hence I was making rapid progress on my book.
One of the days I got a call from my client asking me to speak to their employees on “Surviving the lockdown and bouncing back to business” online and I did that and I followed up with weekly webinars for the general public on several topics. I got invited to speak on the same topic in several fora and on April 13th when I was speaking in one of the fora I was explaining the O3-Process I just said I can see an opportunity to write a book on succeeding amidst pandemonium times because already I am able to write 2500 to 3000 words per day and there could be a need for the same.
I had not thought about it but the words just came out of me when I was explaining about the opportunity that one needs to look at on a daily basis and the result—you are holding this book in your hands.
So, starting today I would urge all of you to make the O3-Process a part of your lifestyle.
Every morning ask yourself, what are my top objectives for the day? And play out all the four possible outcomes if your objective needs external intervention.
Measure the outcomes as you complete the activities which would enable you to reach the objective.
As the day goes along keep your eyes and ears always open for the opportunities that you can see to change, grow, learn, get better, help more people, expand your sphere of influence and be more prosperous. The opportunity that you see today eventually becomes the objectives for your tomorrows.
Author of “No Reference Point” Listed No. 1 Hot New Seller in Entrepreneurship category at Amazon