Its the new year time to make a new plan

January 24, 2011
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Each year we get to this time when everyone wants a new approach. If we don’t adopt or become part of the “new” whatever, we are either lazy or have resigned ourselves to being passed by.

But what about new ideas?

We live in a highly dynamic society, and things are always changing — Jan. 1 isn’t a magic date. So what is the big deal about “starting over”?

Maybe it’s about coming out of a holiday period. We’ve had a bit of a diversion; we’re more rested. If we do the same old thing, we’ll get the same results. So we need a new approach, or at least a new idea of how to tackle the old problems.

From the business perspective, since most folks are on a calendar-year operating cycle, there are new budgets to support new operating objectives. That gets people fired up. There may be new regulations that create new restrictions or opportunities.

All of these factors present change and a revised environment. How you react to the change is the essential part of what will bring you success. You can apply new technology to gain better information or efficiencies. You can create procedural changes that streamline input to outcomes. You can utilize new skills or knowledge to do things better or make better decisions.

No matter the technique or the objective, there are four basic things required to facilitate change:

1. You have to know where you are or where you are starting from.

2. You need to define where you are going or what you want to achieve.

3. You must determine how much time you will allow to achieve the goal.

4. You must have a way to determine if you are making progress and when you achieve your objectives.

If you don’t take the time to define these four things and document the plan, you will have less than optimum success. For example, in the simplest of goal statements — “I want to lose 25 pounds” — you need to have an accurate scale, know your current weight, and determine over what period you will address the issue. After that, you can begin to determine what techniques you will use to lose the 25 pounds.

In business, especially at this time of year, we find everyone looking to adopt a new technique, add new technology, change strategies or reshuffle the players, before they really examine the situation, know the above four points and communicate them to the critical “movers and shakers.” You also need to get buy-in from these folks. Finally, you need to get everyone on the same page as to priorities and what they will do in their area of control or sphere-of-influence that will contribute to goal attainment, without creating more issues than they solve. This may take some negotiation or education, and there may need to be some compromise.

Most organizations are established to achieve straightforward objectives: make something or provide a service with a desired level of quality, with desired outcomes that will meet the objectives of the people who established the organization. Achieving pieces of the goal or getting a technique in place without having the desired effect on the prime objectives is still not cutting it. You either lose the 25 pounds or you don’t.

So here is the new idea for 2011: Stop the “gaming” and get back to the basics. Know the objective that is desired by those who set up the organization and know the timeline so you can realistically establish compatible objectives, know how you are going to measure outcomes and get all the players working in concert: human resources, operations management, finance staff and sales/marketing people.

Everyone must know where the ship is going and how they contribute to the big picture. Establish the plan and stop dancing around. If everyone did this, we’d have more jobs, government working for the people instead of the party, and we’d be providing more and better health care for our citizens.

Maybe we should also recognize those who get the job done — not those who go through the motions.

Ardon Schambers is a principal in the firm of P3HR Consulting & Services in Grand Rapids.

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