A number of years ago I was introduced to a concept called the 6X6 system. It is a very simple but powerful productivity tool that forces you to prioritize your activities and focus on the most critical task as you work towards achieving business targets and goals.
I am not sure who came up with this technique but the famous public relations pioneer Ivy Lee introduced a similar concept in 1918 to Charles M. Schwab and his Bethlehem Steel Corporation executives. As the story goes, Lee was hired by Schwab to help the Bethlehem Steel executives become more productive. Lee told Schwab that he would not charge a fee but rather Schwab could pay him what he believed his services were worth after the concepts were applied at the corporation.
Lee sat down for 15 minutes with each of the Bethlehem Steel executives and told them to carve some time out at the end of each day to identify the top six critical things that had to be done the following day and then prioritize this list. In the morning when they arrived at work, they were to focus only on the top priority item. When it was complete, they could move onto the next and so on until the list was complete. If there were any items left over at the end of the day, they were to go onto the top six list for the next day.
Schwab and his executives implemented this process wholeheartedly and found that this technique worked brilliantly for them. After three months, they were so enamoured with the results that Lee received a cheque for $25,000 which is equivalent to about $400,000 in today’s dollars!
The 6X6 system that I use is a little more involved but still very simple and powerful. I have outlined the process below;
- Have each member of your team identify the top six things that they need to achieve during the next six weeks. Make sure the items are prioritized and limit it to six per person.
- Meet with your team and discuss each individual’s six week priorities. Challenge those who have easy goals and those whose goals are too large for a six week period. Look for areas of collaboration and areas of conflict. Adjust as required. Note that this meeting should be brief and focused.
- At the beginning of each week during this six week period, have each person identify the top six things that they need to complete during that week that will allow them to achieve their six week priorities.
- Meet with your team each week and discuss the weekly priorities. Look for areas of collaboration and areas of conflict. Adjust as required. During this meeting review the progress against the previous week’s priorities. Have the team hold each other accountable for the completion of their items. This accountability step is critical to the process. Note that this meeting should be brief and focused.
- At the end of each day, have each team member identify the top six critical things that contribute to completing their top six weekly goals that need to be done the following day. Prioritize the list. In the morning when they arrive at work they need to focus only on the top priority item. When it is complete, they can move onto the next and so on until the list is complete. If there are any items left over at the end of the day, they are to go onto the top six list for the next day.
- At the end of the six week period, restart the process for the next six weeks.
Become a person of focused action not unproductive motion. Give the 6X6 system a try and see what it can do for you and your business!