The New Year is almost here! This is important, because the New Year represents a change where we leave the old year behind and swiftly move into a new year with new challenges. It would be easy enough to declare “What’s behind us doesn’t matter!” However, such change deserves reflection on what the passing year means to our business and what the New Year holds. Here are some questions to ponder when considering a new direction for the New Year:
- What was our biggest accomplishment for 2012?
- Did we meet our overall goals?
- What mistakes did we make?
- Did we track our progress regularly?
- Were our customers satisfied?
- What do our employees say we did well?
One of the biggest questions for the New Year will be, “Is it time to make a change”. For the visionary in us, such a thought is invigorating! Why, then, would we be reluctant? For any experienced entrepreneur or executive, we know making a conscious effort to change takes time, energy, resources, and commitment. It will reach into every component of the business, and may forever alter the course of the organization.
A review of the passing year should reveal whether change is needed. Because we generally improve the things we measure, we need to have the pulse on our key metrics. We should know, for instance whether or not we exceeded our customer’s expectations. We should know if our team members and partners are happy, and if we did a good job with cost control, production, sales, and warranty. Through our metrics, we’ll be able to determine if we have achieved what we set out to accomplish. If we can’t readily assess the state of our business, then we know what the first “change” should be. We need a dashboard that gives us a quick read on the key metrics in our business so that we can see at a glance where we are succeeding and where we are coming up short. This is an important driver for success!
Let’s presume that we have such a dashboard. Some of the metrics will be based on feedback from our customers that will help us gauge the effectiveness of our processes including customer service, product design, sales processes, pricing and warranty. Interviews with our customers should give us information on how they perceive we performed in comparison to our competition and how well our team is performing at each level. By having this important feedback from our customers, we can often see what is working and what is broken. If we pay attention to our customer surveys, we can obtain some valuable feedback on what we need to do to move the needle in a positive direction.
Our customers are obviously key stake holders, and they are the ones we are all accountable to. Team members are alsokey stakeholders because sound execution depends on them. If we properly support and incentivize our teams and empower them to always do the right thing for our customers without delay, our customers will reward us for it. At the same time, if our employees fully understand our value proposition and believe in the service and products we offer, they will become ‘walking billboards’ for our organization. By measuring performance, we can identify the strengths and weaknesses in our culture and our team, and may also find weaknesses in our processes that need to be shored up. Ultimately, the feedback from our key stakeholders will lead us to answering the big question “To Change or not to Change!”
Let’s face it, some companies operate their business without reflecting on previous year’s accomplishments and mistakes, and some business leaders operate “by the seat of their pants” when it comes to processes. Great companies have a defined mission and purpose, a clearly articulated set of core values and a firm commitment to excellence. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes this about the Culture of Discipline: “When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results.”
The New Year presents a fresh opportunity to change the direction of your organization and infuse momentum into your company. An objective review, assessment, and diagnosis will get the ball rolling. It will involve a transition plan that is well orchestrated, and buy-in from everyone on your team. In the end, your enterprise will be moving forward on a solid footing, prepared for sustainable success with the appropriate tools and the right team to get the job done.
If you are considering a new direction for your business in 2013 and are struggling to map it out, please feel free to contact us at 877.609.3840 or email us – we would love to help!
Cheers to a Happy New Year!