A couple of weeks ago I heard lawyer, orator, and FIU Law School Visiting Professor of Law George Knox define the word “WILL” this way:
“Will does not mean should, will does not mean could, will does not mean might or maybe. Will is unequivocal. Will only means ‘will.’ The word will is so strong that the law will enforce it even after you’ve passed on.”
What does it mean when you say, “I will”?
According to Knox’s definition, saying “I will” is the same as issuing a vow, creating a pact or promising an outcome. But as easy as it is to say something, the real effort in making the pact is not in the making; it’s in the doing. Because if your will is unequivocal, then not doing what you’ve promised is simply not acceptable.
I was thinking about Knox’s definition of the word will when I was in Orlando presenting to the international marketing team for Philips Home Healthcare Solutions (HHS). After my talk on the Keys to Innovation, Philips HHS VP of Global Marketing, Erik Hollander, inspired the group to always include Philips HHS’ innovative solutions in an exceptional customer and end-user experience. Hollander tasked each and every one of his marketing team to match the insight and foresight Philips’ engineers and product managers have marshaled to create the products when the marketers devise the strategies and tactics to sell these products. Coincidentally, I had just seen one of their latest innovations — Philips’ GoSafe mobile personal emergency response system — the week before when Philips debuted it in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Now I know some of you are already writing back, “Bruce, don’t you know there are no coincidences?” but that’s not my point. What I find interesting is that with all the time, money, and effort Philips spent to bring their new products to market, it was now just as important for the marketing team to make the product successful in the market. In fact, it could be argued that regardless of the quality of the product itself, GoSafe would live or die in the marketplace based on the quality of the effort of Hollander’s marketing team.
And that team had better be serious about what they say they will do. After all, Philips has done some significant innovating to create the GoSafe. According to their product release, GoSafe was designed to be an easy-to-use medical alert system that provides access to assistance both indoors and out. GoSafe delivers innovative fall detection capabilities as well as a comprehensive suite of locating technologies. GoSafe helps provide active seniors with a sense of confidence to continue to get the most out of life.
Even though an emergency locator sounds simple (remember “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”?) Philips had to leverage seven different technologies to make sure the device will work in all conditions and all situations.
And there’s that “will” word again. Because the GoSafe has to work in all conditions and situations, Philips brought very different technologies to the table to make it possible. And in doing so harnessed some of the best practices needed to live up to the word “will.” Here are my top three techniques of accountability:
Engage Accountability Partners.
Instead of trying to live up to a difficult commitment by yourself, marshal others to help guarantee your success. When I committed to running my first marathon I found training partners to make sure I put in the miles. On mornings that I don’t want to get out of bed at 5 a.m. (like today!), I do it anyway because I know my running buddies will be there waiting for me. I like to think that they’re there because they know I’ll be waiting for them, too.
Write It Down.
It’s one thing to say something out loud; it’s another to commit it to writing. Write your commitments down on paper and post the notes where you can see them frequently — on your computer monitor, on your medicine cabinet, on your steering wheel. That way your “I will” item won’t slip your mind.
Tell Everyone You Know.
Don’t just post your note where YOU can see it, make your commitment a public announcement. Post it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other places where your friends and family will read it and know that you’re committed to doing what you’ve said you’ll do. They might even become your study buddies and become part of your accountability team.
These three simple accountability tools will help the Philips team guide their GoSafe to success and they will help you accomplish your goals as well. I will do it. Will you?