On the shelves of many leaders, you will find a book about the first 100 days in a new role.
Pick up a newspaper 100 days after an election. There will undoubtedly be a comment piece about the progress the new political demigod, has made.
There is something in the roundness of the number. By the time you reach 100 days you should have made an impact. Your leadership will be judged by how quickly you got to understand the issues. Put out the fires. Sent a domesticated animal to the moon. Or simply didn’t balls up as badly as the person before you.
For me, the first 100 days were a simple sales pitch: to show what I can do.
Provide leadership to a team. To work with our partner to better understand what they need. To demonstrate how we can work together to deliver that objective.
Going in, where a team knows each other and I am the outsider – to then explain why things may need to change – is water off a duck’s back to me. Doing it in a way that didn’t result in a mutiny or widespread disgruntlement, was always going to define my start with Difrent.
Some measure of success could be determined by the fact that I completed my probation period. I may, one day, attack that word ‘probation’ and the concept of passing something that is a joint experience. For now we will simply acknowledge it was required and fulfilled.
Though that meeting took place on day 91. You could also argue that by the end of the first week I had realised what work really needed to be done. That by week three (in to my 20s now), I was clear on the strengths and ambitions of the team. Week 6 bought with it the need to improve my efforts at home – to account for my absences. Or maybe it took till day 80 to tackle a challenge we discussed at length, on day 3.
The more telling one is that, after a couple of false starts, it may take until day 103 before we land the information we need to, in a way that is right for the audience.
Milestones are great if you are walking along a canal, and you want to know how much further you have to go until your destination. Arbitrary milestones, and being measured by the passing of time, not always.
For if we were to really look at things now, what would they say? That I am 100 days further away from being a Chief Information Officer than I was in my previous role. That I am 92 miles away from my family. Or that I am five pounds heavier than I was before I started. A mixed bag, that numbers alone can’t tell the whole story.
I am in a role, with a challenge and a team that I had missed for far too long. In a company that I believe will support me well beyond the next 100 days. That I will be home for three consecutive days – of which I won’t moan and grumble as much as I did, when I was working 2 miles from the family.
So next time a batsman gets out for 99, applaud them just as loudly as you would if they nicked an outside edge to take them to 100. Next time you read a review of a political leader’s first 100 days, apply even more scrutiny to day 101.
Like I said. Milestones are great for knowing how far you have to go – not always how far you have come.