In business, ideas are a dime a dozen. They’re everywhere.
If you own or operate your own rehab therapy clinic, you know what I mean.
In contrast, execution is much rarer in the world of entrepreneurship. Despite the best of intentions, getting things done is simply more difficult to do. Yet, it’s what moves us forward, helps us grow and keeps us successful.
So why is execution such a scarce commodity? As one of my mentors once explained, it’s not for lack of trying. It is, he said, because many lack what he called “the gift of constraints.”
What is the Gift of Constraints?
Passed along to him from one of his own mentors, “the gift of constraints” is the application of parameters to any task with the specific intent of limiting its scope. It’s to help ensure that something meaningful is accomplished on time, though not necessarily perfectly.
Perfection (or lack thereof) is a topic for another article. However, it is important to note that perfection and execution simply do not correlate.
Perfection is about you – about completing something that meets your definition of ideal. Execution, however, is about everyone else. You accomplish something so that others can move forward with their needs.
And the gift of constraints helps us achieve this.
The act of applying parameters or limitations to a task permits those involved to focus on execution, not perfection. In fact, the constraints require this.
You cannot spend two weeks getting this done, for example, because you’ve been given just two hours. You can’t write a 10-page plan because you’ve been limited to one page. You don’t have $1,000 to complete the project; you only have $100.
Constrain Your Scope, Not the Final Results
The gift of constraints is a powerful mindset. It forces us to be better – to be faster, more creative and more driven by results.
For me, constraints are liberating. They remove the infinite iterations from the realm of possibility and actually force me through to completion.
Here are some examples of constraints you may choose to use in your practice:
- If you want a proposal for your new program launch, require that it be delivered to you on one page. This will cut down on the time necessary to draft and proofread the proposal, requiring that each sentence carry significance.
- If you want ideas for how to recruit the next member of your staff, ask for three specific suggestions by the end of the day. They will not be perfect, but they will serve as building blocks for launching a recruitment plan now, today or this week rather than when your team has time to get around to it.
- For your next marketing campaign, specify your exact budget in advance. We should all do this, but let’s face it – many of us don’t. Providing a specific budget constraint will help narrow the team’s focus and perhaps stimulate greater creativity, all while ensuring you stay in the black.
- For your next staff meeting, require three-minute updates from each of your clinical leads. These can be about new program development, training, personnel, and so on. Regardless, the time limitation will ensure your leads remain efficient and share information that is the most relevant … without going on tangents.
- Place a hard stop on your team meetings so that all items must be covered in the time allotted. Meetings are notorious for always taking up the time you make available. Establishing a hard stop will force everyone to stay on task while helping cut your meeting times down significantly.
The gift of constraints is a powerful tool that can stimulate action by the mere statement: “You have X to work with.” Try it out at your rehab therapy clinic and see how placing execution over perfection can empower your team to accomplish great things.
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