One of my biggest frustrations is advice and information which is non-actionable.
Whether I’m reading a blog post, listening to a presentation or having a meeting, if I reach the end without at least one next step to take, the whole thing has just been a waste of my time.
Sure, I may have picked up some information and insights, but without the next step, I lack the piece that could have tied the whole thing together and made it worth my while.
Showing Up With Solutions
At one of my first jobs post-college, I learned a very valuable lesson which helped shape my passion about being actionable in all things.
As a deadline for my team approached, I knew we were not going to make it. There was just no way.
It was no one person’s fault. A series of missed communications, connection and opportunities had led up to the fact that we were not going to make it.
Crestfallen, I trudged into my manager’s office and said, “We’re not going to make the deadline”.
“So, what are you going to do about it?”
That memory remains laser-sharp in my memory.
He did not yell at me. He did not wrest control from me and try and push to get it done.
He wanted me to figure it out. He wanted me to come in with an action plan. He wanted me to do both those things BEFORE I came in to talk to him!
He wanted my news to be actionable.
“We Have Lots of Data, But No Information”
The above quote comes from one of my favorite t-shirts.
When I walked into my manager’s office in the story above, I gave him a piece of data: “We’re not going to make the deadline.”
He wanted information, “We’re not going to make the deadline, and here’s what we’re going to do about it”.
I learned at that moment that data is good, but information is much, much better.
When you deliver information, you deliver the whole package. You give the data context.
You help people take action.
Do You Deliver “Actionable”?
Are your blog posts actionable? Are your presentations actionable? Are your meetings actionable?
Do you provide data and then tie it up with one or more next best steps?
If not, you need to start.
Being actionable brings folks back to read your blog posts.
Being actionable shows leadership and establishes credibility.
How to Be Actionable
So, how can you be sure you are being actionable? Easy!
As you put that last polish on your blog post or presentation, ask yourself one simple question:
“Will the folks reading or hearing this know what to do next when they’ve finished reading or listening?”
If the answer is, “Yes”, you have created actionable information! Nice job.
If the answer is, “No”, you need to add at least one clear step that they can take, or method that they can use, when they are done reading or listening.
In a world drowning in data and grasping for information, you’ll be a hero for doing so.