FIT uncovers a simple, but powerful process that is used to achieve goals that many of us only dream about. The term FIT is a double entendre that serves as both an acronym and an adjective.
FIT as an acronym is a simple process with three steps: 1) Focus on what’s most important to improve, 2) Iterate toward the Goal, and 3) Track progress along the way. It is a mission-driven approach to Continuous Improvement.
Fit as an adjective means to be in proper form for achieving one’s purpose. It describes a target condition the be reached in preparation for success.
The book teaches a process for leaders to use to accelerate the fitness of their organizations called Agile Strategy Execution. This process helps develop leaders as coaches and orchestrates the FIT process at scale.
About the Author
Calvin L Williams is the CEO of Impruver and 20-year professional in Operations Leadership and Continuous Improvement. Orginally from Chicago, IL, he earned is Industrial Engineering degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he attended on academic and Track and Field scholarships. He later went on to earn his MBA and start multiple businesses.
Calvin started his professional career on the shop floor of Square D Company, where he learned to appreciate the work experiences and contributions of frontline workers. Since then he has worked for several Fortune 200 companies such as Nestle, Mars, The Clorox Company, and the US Military Industrial Base. In this time, he has delivered over $2.5B in cost savings and growth opportunities for these organizations while working his way into Sr. Leadership positions.
Quotes from the Book
How the FIT Process was Discovered
After spending years helping teams develop and deploy strategic plans, Calvin realized that the traditional waterfall approach was woefully ineffective. He would go out to plants and offices to spend weeks building the perfect strategic plans, only to return a year later to find that nearly nothing was done to implement them. The teams would spend all of their time dealing with one disruption after another. By the end of the year, the annual plan would be rendered obsolete and a new one would be created. This dysfunctional cycle would be repeated year after year.
Finally, Calvin decided to try something different. He found a few leaders who were willing to experiment with a new approach. These leaders agreed to scrap the rigid annual plan and set one goal that could be achieved in 60 days. They then met with Calvin weekly for a 15-minute check-in. The format of the meetings were simple – report out on 3 things: what’s your goal, what did you do last week, and what will you try next week to make progress.
This approach proved to be much more agile and manageable. Goal achievement went from 2 – 3 significant achievements per year to 12 – 15. The process was so simple that these leaders started doing the same with their teams, and the results were astonishing. EBITDA grew as much as 15%, costs fell in the double-digit percentages. Quality and productivity improved dramatically as well. This gave way to the method we now call Agile Strategy Execution
Calvin left his corporate role in 2018 to bring this incredible discovery to others. Since then, he has brought the process to hundreds of practitioners and dozens of companies, many of whom are now producing results that were impossible otherwise.
3 Major Paradigm Shifts
FIT and Agile Strategy execution introduce three major paradigm shifts from traditional approaches to strategy management such as OGSMs/OGSTs, Hoshin Kanri, and OKRs.
From Batched to Flow of GoalsEach person sets one Goal at a time given the area of Focus of their immediate leader. The next Goal is set upon the satisfactory speed and quality of delivery on the current. This maximizes focus and priority for what is most important to improve next. It also enables faster and more frequent coaching cycles to accelerate Iterations.
From Centralized to Decentralized ManagementAlong with delegating the goal setting step, each person also determines their own next Iteration toward their Goal. This decentralizes the management, planning, and execution of tasks needed to move the company forward. It engages people to take personal ownership of results within their domain.
From Leaders as Judges to CoachesLeaders transition from passive observers who sit through quarterly reviews and pass judgement to coaches who actively participate in the achievement of results among their teams. ASE is managed through the natural chain of command, giving people leaders some real skin in the game of their team’s success.
Why the Moonshot and more...
The 1960s Moonshot is the greatest achievement in the recorded history of mankind. The focus, iteration, and progressive achievement required to execute such an incredible challenge perfectly captures the FIT and Agile Strategy Execution processes. It is said that even the janitor who mopped the floors of the space center fully understood the mission and their unique role in making it successful.
Several other remarkable achievements were included to illustrate the power of this simple concept including:
- Diane Nyad becoming the first human to swim from Cuba to the US.
- The rise of Google, Walmart, Tesla, Southwest Airlines, and Mars
- The fall of Toys ‘R’ Us, Yahoo, GM, NECCO, and Pan Am
- The first, second, and third industrial revolutions
- Several others
All of the successful examples demonstrate a common thread in how they rose to prominence, while the failed organizations transgressed from the rule.