By: Dan Sullivan
This is another practical tool book from my executive coach, Dan Sullivan.
The book is an instruction on how to use the tool, The Impact Filter.
The Impact Filter is a form to transform an idea into a project that:
- You are 100% committed to or not
- Has a well defined purpose and ideal outcome
- Communicates to your team the best result if you take action and the worst result if you don’t
- Communicates to your team the specific results for the project to be successful
Introduction: Intentionality Creates Everything
You realize that all of your achievement, progress, and satisfaction in life comes from telling yourself and others exactly what you want.
In some cases, if all that you’re communicating is content, people you’re working with will be confused and wonder why you are sharing.
This poor communication takes a clear picture in your mind and turns it into a series of unclear pictures in other people’s minds.
The problem is that in this situation, you didn’t put the listeners in a position where they could really get a clear picture of what you’ve visualized and understand the importance of it.
Intentionality means that you’re totally understandable, and that you’re communicating in such a way that other people can become not only totally clear themselves, but also excited and motivated to achieve your vision.
Chapter 1: Impact Filter Process
You master a single half-hour process of thinking and communication that can be applied to absolutely anything.
The very purpose of The Impact Filter is to filter out everything except the impact you want to have.
I wasn’t really explaining things clearly, so the person I was communicating my idea to would spend time thinking about and working on something that wasn’t actually what I had in mind.
When I start with 100% commitment to my ideas, and I’m clear on what the result will look like, I don’t worry that other people’s feedback will overpower my vision. I’m open to their contributions and willing to see how their perspective, talents, and skills can improve upon my idea, especially with regard to implementation.
Chapter 2: Make Everything A Project
The goal is not to be busy. The goal is to be effective. Effective in achieving a specific result.
You think, communicate, and act in a way that everyone in your team can understand the result you are seeking.
The first step when completing an Impact Filter is to state the result of the finished project. This communicates that there’s a specific, measurable result you’re aiming for.
The first thing I state is why the achievement is so important to me. I then describe the negative impact of not achieving the goal as well as the positive impact of achieving it.
They have to know why something will be better as a result of doing this, and why they’ll be better as a result of participating in it. Then communicate who will be involved in it and who it will benefit.
The next step is to communicate how the idea will work. It’s not a matter of how we get the project done, but how it will benefit people.
Then, when do you see this project being completed?
The goal is that the idea becomes teamwork through effective communication.
Chapter 3: Purpose, Importance, Outcome
You tell yourself in a very convincing way why this new project is so important for your progress and everyone else’s.
I recognize that everyone’s time and activity are already filled up with projects, so I’m not going to propose a new idea to my team unless I can make a convincing argument for all of us making space for it and possibly delaying something else.
Your Three Upfront Questions.
- What’s the purpose?
- Why is it important?
- What is the ideal outcome?
What do you want to accomplish?
The more specific you are when explaining what the new achievement will be, the more specific everyone else’s understanding about it will be.
Focus on describing the progress that will come with the implementation and completion of this new project.
Why is it so important?
State in what ways things will be measurably better when the project is completed.
This is very important in communicating to someone why this project should take priority over other projects.
What’s the final product look like?
Paint a picture of what the final product will look like when it’s done and done well so everyone involved will be clear on what you’re looking for and what success means for this particular project.
Context creates collaboration.
By describing and explaining your new project in terms of its purpose, importance, and ideal outcome, you’re laying the very best contextual foundation to encourage and motivate collaboration with others.
What I want is for everybody who reads my Impact Filter to give me a fair assessment. I’m asking, “Does this make sense? Do you think this is really worth going forward on, and have I given you a clear enough picture that you can form a good response to what I’m putting there?” This gives both me and my team the confidence to move ahead.
Chapter 4: Best and Worst Results
You emotionally tell yourself and others why taking action is so much better than not taking action.
You’re completely sold on this.
A lot of people float their ideas to others, and then if there’s a positive response, they become emotionally committed to their ideas.
But I never use other people’s responses as the indicator of whether I’m going to be emotionally committed to something. You have to be emotionally committed before anyone even hears your idea.
The Impact Filter exercise is writing down the best result if you do take action on the idea and the worst result if you don’t take action.
Motivating best possible teamwork.
It’s about being a leader rather than a manager, and that’s an important distinction for an entrepreneur to make. I’m the leader related to the idea and its impact out in the world. I’m in charge of this idea and this project. But I’m not in control of the project and its completion.
The missing piece between my idea and the finished project is teamwork, and what I’m trying to do is make it so that the people who will respond to this are the best possible people to implement my idea and bring about the best possible result.
Chapter 5: Measurable Success Criteria
You specify every measurable positive result that has to be true for the project to be considered successful.
The simplest and most efficient way to ensure you get the results you want is to create a list of success criteria for your project.
These criteria outline what the project looks like when it’s done and done well.
Each item in your list has to be something that’s either true or not true.
When you hand over your completed Impact Filter to other people, they’ll know exactly what the end result of the project will be.
Either a number or an event.
You must be specific when describing the desired results of a project.
The clear-cut measurements you create will be represented by either a number that can be counted, such as a percentage increase in sales or number of registration, or an event that either happens or doesn’t happen by a certain point in time.
Everyone is confident about progress.
Because they can measure it against the success criteria you’ve outlined.
Uncertainty leads to a loss of morale, momentum, and motivation, and those three things are crucial to effective teamwork.
Chapter 6: Selling Yourself First
You never try to sell a new project to anyone else until you have sold yourself on it first.
The filtering aspect of using Impact Filters starts with time, because it takes some time to fill out an Impact Filter. So if something’s not worth taking the time to fill out an Impact Filter on, it’s probably not worth doing.
What I’ve found is that with 7 out of every 10 Impact Filters I write, I’m excited enough about the idea to commit to doing an Impact Filter, but not excited enough about it afterward to actually send it out to others.
Use the Impact Filter as your gateway to all teamwork with others: First, you sell yourself on a new project, and then you communicate it to a team. If you’re trying to sell yourself on the idea while selling it to others, it’s not going to work.
Automatically a great leader.
It’s the power of intentionality that makes a person a leader, and it’s the constant use of Impact Filters that makes a person intentional.
The best people buy in.
If you spend 30 minutes completing an Impact Filter, it’s almost guaranteed that the best possible team members will buy into your result.
The best people are very attracted to getting approached and engaged in a project where there’s not going to be anything other than what’s stated and where what’s stated is clear-cut and measurable.
Extraordinary sales and success.
So, when you have an idea for improvement, here’s the best way to set up a situation for communicating it: First of all, structure it as a project, and allow the possibility for other people to intellectually engage with it. Let them know that you’re 100% emotionally committed to the project, and give specific measurements of what the project will look like when it’s finished.
Chapter 7: No Filter, No Meeting
You participate in only those meetings that are initiated by someone’s written Impact Filter.
Who’s the intentional leader?
No meeting is worth the time unless it’s to discuss someone’s Impact Filter that everyone attending the meeting reads before the meeting even begins.
Everybody knows the desired result.
A meeting is just a way of focusing people’s efforts on the desired result, and the only meetings worth attending are those where everyone who attends already knows the desired result at the start of the meeting.
Clarity about the key commitment.
It’s simply that they need to know what the desired result is, and they need to know that the person who wants the desired result is fully committed to getting it.
The success criteria you’ve laid out identify what type of talent you need in order to fulfill the results. Those are the team members who will engage in teamwork and share in the success of the completed project. There will also be a project leader who, in turn, will create their own Impact Filters to implement and complete the project. What you’re bringing together in terms of human thinking, cooperation, and implementation is really quite extraordinary, and it starts with just 30 minutes of focused thinking.
Chapter 8: Extraordinary Teamwork
You increasingly use Impact Filters to multiply extraordinary teamwork in every area of importance.
Everyone is on the same page.
You’re taking out the guesswork.
Everything that people need to know about what their role is and how they have to focus. Everyone knows exactly what they’ll be working toward.
You only have the right people working on the right parts of the project to get their results so that they can contribute to other people getting their own results.
Teach the Impact Filter process to our team and make it a part of our quality system.