By Rick Meekins
The year-end/start of the new year often marks a mile-marker for people in all walks of life. New tax year. New goals. New expectations. New resolutions. I believe that many of us create expectations for ourselves that we have every intention of pursuing, but neglect to think in terms of how to actually accomplish them. One of those has to do with personal or professional improvement. While it might be great to increase revenue or increase productivity, the "how" is often the debilitating factor. I am not suggesting that the goals are logically impossible or impractical, but rather, without evaluating the "whole picture" the goals are idealistic and success unlikely.
You might liken it to the routine of losing weight. Many people who wish to lose weight plan to diet, exercise or both in order to do so. While they have every intention of doing so, most people who want to lose weight will fail - not because they don't try with the best of intentions, but rather, because they go about it wrong: while they are looking for a physical change and instant results, the way people lose weight and keep it off is often by a lifestyle change, which might include diet and exercise, but is more of a psychological change which often begins with answer questions that begin with "why?" starting with "why do you want to lose weight?"
In your business, change doesn't occur any differently. Understanding what you would like to do is only the tip of the iceberg. The business psychology is still subject to the same psychological rules in order for the organizational change to take place. It is not an overnight process. It does require ongoing commitment and dedication in order to see it through.
While many subject-matter experts have written on the subject, I have discovered a path that logically makes sense in order to not just achieve the goals that you have set out for your company, but for the endeavors to be successful. It has a lot to do with "setting the stage" for whatever venture you are planning to launch rather than the instant-gratification method of "throwing some ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks." As a business leader, it makes me think in terms of creating my own Blue Ocean strategy, rather than fighting to get scraps in the more popular target areas. Keep in mind that regardless of the goal - internal or external to the organization, it has to be sold.
Here are the seven steps:
Establish your goal. This, of course is the most obvious. What, exactly, do you want to do? What is the bottom line result? What will the painting look like when it is finished? What is the destination? Without understanding, clearly, what the goal is, it will be impossible to create a path toward it, share it with others or even stay motivated.
Frame it. As the questions:
Does this serve our company beliefs (mission, vision, values)
What new knowledge/understanding are required to accomplish this?
Who can advise me on this?
Why are we doing this? What is its purpose? What is the vision?
What are the criteria for quality?
How will we measure success?
Will it be desirable by our end-users?
Make it appealing. Make something that people will truly hunger for. Your audiences will need to understand it and relate it back to something they already enjoy. Only a small segment of the population will "risk" trying something completely new and untested. You've got to focus on the majority.
Prepare to maintain it. You already know that any time you introduce change, even if something is appealing, consumers will need to be able to "wash it down," so to speak. They need to feel confident that the right choice has been made and the initial appeal needs to be renewed.
Do things well. Make the experience as palatable as possible. Think in terms of needing to repeat the activity or getting other people on board with it. If you do it well the first time, it will be easier to get people on board the second time around and to keep those who have gotten on board to stay on board!
Create your consumer experience. Anticipate needs. Whoever will be involved with bringing the goal to fruition will have an experience with you and your company. Having the customer experience completely "mapped out" touching on creating value at every interaction with your company is invaluable. If your goal is to track your sales teams' activities, you will want to put some time and energy into figuring out how to create value for them at every step of the process, versus threatening to fire them or not pay them if they DON'T follow the process!
Tell people about it. Get people on board. Get them excited about the change or about getting on board.
These seven steps can be applied to marketing, product or service development goal setting or starting a whole new company. These avoid the time and revenue sucking "spaghetti" technique and helps a business leader thinking through the goal. It avoids pulling goals out of thin air or creating baseless goals that some managers and business leaders use just because that is what is always done.
As you begin your journey onto 2012 and beyond, think it terms of going big. Think in terms of being extraordinary.
Rick Meekins is passionate about helping business leaders start, run and grow extraordinary businesses. He focuses on helping leaders clarify their business goals and develop strategies to achieve them. He is a strong believer in alignment between people, purpose, passion and pursuit. He believes that people working in alignment with their individual purposes is the foundation for successful businesses and successful communities.
Mr. Meekins is the Founder & Principal at Aepiphanni: The Business Strategy People, a boutique consulting firm based in Metro Atlanta, Ga. Aepiphanni is a Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to providing leadership and direction in the areas of operations, communications, branding, leadership and marketing. Their work has helped business owners expand their businesses, increase revenues, reduce costs and pursue sustainable futures. For further information, please contact them, directly, at 678-265-3908, email them at email@example.com, or visit their website at http://www.aepiphanni.com.
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