During recent visits with people throughout the industry, and while attending various industry conventions and meetings, I’ve heard a lot of bemoaning about all the upheaval our industry is undergoing.
To those complainers I pose these questions: So what? When hasn’t our industry been “interesting?”
Our industry is an environment that is continually getting ready for change, in the middle of transformation, adjusting to change, facing critical issues and dealing with a turbulent present.
While the future is always unpredictable, several things are for certain.
One is that you have to think about the future and prepare for it. As the saying goes: “The best way to predict the future is to build it.”
The organizations, whatever their size, that grow and prosper, are those that constantly and strategically review, revise and re-plan their businesses.
If you and your organization are not doing this, I strongly recommend that you take a strategic look to steering your enterprise into the future. In these “interesting times,” organizations that don’t plan their future aren’t likely to have one.
Particular Business Practices
Another for-sure thing is that the more successful organizations share several business practices that help them thrive and stay ahead of the competition.
One such practice is to measure and regularly review performance and objective attainment, making changes when necessary.
Successful organizations understand that if performance can’t be gauged, processes and procedures can’t be improved. And if changes are made, there’s no way to determine whether the adjustments were effective.
The SMART Technique
The successful organizations establish goals using some variation of the SMART technique. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound.
Here are the fundamentals of SMART:
- Specific – Specific goals are detailed so there is no doubt or vagueness about what is to be accomplished. Answering the five Ws - Who, Where, What, When, Why - help to make goals specific.
- Measurable – This involves establishing interim goals as a way to assess progress to the ultimate objective.
- Attainable – This next step is to determine whether or not the objective is practical and achievable.
- Realistic – Is the objective reasonable? If you know your organization is not going to be able to do something - perhaps because your personnel are lacking in skills or knowledge, or there isn’t the appropriate equipment or business systems, then don’t attempt to set an objective to do it.
- Time Bound – Deadlines for objectives need to be established in order to provide definite targets.
Priorities and Accountability
There are two other common practices of the more successful organizations: determining priorities and accountability, and proactive problem-solving to anticipate problems and take positive steps to eliminate them.
This latter practice enables these organizations to develop reasoned plans to avoid having to just act in response to circumstances.
Further, management at successful organizations cultivates a culture that encourages innovation and collaboration, and maintains a management style that makes possible quick response to changed conditions, unplanned events and deviations from plans.
If you haven’t already done so at the start of this year, you would be wise to re-evaluate how well you balance - or juggle - your time and responsibilities between work and family.
Over the past three months, my mother-in-law, two uncles and a close family friend all died - one after a long illness, but three suddenly. This was a lightning-bolt reminder of just how precious life is, and how all that “small stuff” is just not so significant in the big scheme of things.
The deaths made me think about how important family, friends and associates are.
I began contemplating on how we all too often don’t spend enough time with them, tell them how we love and appreciate them, thank them for their efforts and ideas and so forth.
While pondering all this, I recalled something my dear father told me many years ago: “1 never knew anyone who, on their death bed, said: ‘I wish I had spent more time at work.’”
I’ve made a pledge to myself to better organize my work and manage distractions and procrastination. Technology makes it far too easy for us to become workaholics.
I’ve also made a vow to be more aware of the importance of others, and to look for more opportunities to let them know how I feel about them.
I have set three SMART objectives for myself. One is to stop making sacrifices that I will end up regretting farther down the road. Another is to stop losing track of what counts.
My third objective is to become more conscious of what actually makes a difference in life.
I leave you with a final thought: What are you doing with your time, our most valuable resource?