Monday, May 16, 2011

Small wins–an effective strategy for in-house counsel

Starting something new?  A new client, a new legal assignment, a new employer, a promotion?  Then think “small wins” as the road to success.  A recent post reminded me of their importance in a corporate environment:
"Because setbacks are so common in truly important problems, people become disheartened unless they can point to some meaningful advance most days, even if that advance is seemingly minor, and even if it involves nothing more than extracting insights from the day's failures."  Small Wins and Feeling Good (Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer).
The signficance of small wins is embraced by many leading consultants:
  • New job success.  Small, early wins are a critical  component of new job success.  Michael Watkins in The First 90 Days.
  • Achieving BHAGs.  Good Boss, Bad Boss author Bob Sutton says that he is “a huge fan of the power of small wins" because BHAG’s (“big hairy audacious goals”) “cause people to freak-out and freeze-up if they aren't broken down into smaller stepping stones.”  A Cool Neurological Explaination [sic?] for the Power of Small Wins.
  • Model the Way. “Because the prospect of complex change can overwhelm people and stifle action, they set interim goals so that people can achieve small wins as they work toward larger objectives.  They unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action; they put up signposts when people are unsure of where to go or how to get there; and they create opportunities for victory.”  The Leadership Challenge.
There’s even a new book devoted to the concept, Little Bets, by Peter Sims.  What are little bets?  A “little bet is a low-risk action taken to discover, develop, and test an idea.”  The theme of the book is further summarized on Sims’ blog:
“What do Apple CEO Steve Jobs, comedian Chris Rock, . . .  all have in common? . . . all of them have achieved remarkable results using a surprisingly similar approach: methodically taking small, experimental steps. . . . they make a methodical series of little bets about what might be a good direction, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from small but significant wins that allow them to find unexpected avenues and arrive at extraordinary outcomes.”  About the book, Little Bets.
So I say, may you have an abundance of small wins, and may they lead you to big success.

This summary was prepared by Perry Cone and posted at

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