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Ready, Steady, Go!

Optimize Blog - January 2, 2013 - 0 comments

Firstly we would like to wish all our readers a Happy and Prosperous 2013!
As we start the year we find ourselves in the New Year’s Resolution and diet silly season. Granted, we are all probably carrying around a few extra pounds after the Christmas and New Year festivities but unfortunately each year research shows that 60% of people fail to follow through on their new commitments, and by the end of January they have slipped back into their old, familiar habits (the average date of failure is January 22). To add to the chaos we are bombarded with the newest ways to lose weight.
Dieting is not a new thing. Both the Greeks and the Romans were concerned with dieting but it was really the Victorians that created the fad diet and there have been some really weird ones. Take for example the ‘chew and spit’ diet introduced at the turn of the century by Horace Fletcher. Mr. Fletcher proposed that all one needed to do was to chew the food to extract the goodness and then spit out whatever was left. Or what about the tapeworm diet introduced around the same time where the requirement was to ingest a tapeworm which would lie in the intestine and absorb food causing the host to lose weight.
Other fad diets included the taking of arsenic and strychnine or how about Lord Byron who was one of the first celebrities to popularize their diet. He chose to drink vinegar daily causing vomiting and diarrhoea but it worked after a fashion. Records show that in 1806 he weighed 88Kg but by 1811 he was down to 57Kg.
Like our good intentions around a better diet, losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle, we see a similar pattern to what happens in most businesses at the start of the year. Business leaders start off with good intentions to be more disciplined and focused, only to fall back into their old habits. Research shows that only about 10% of companies can effectively execute their strategies.
This is a salutary lesson for us as we look at 250 working days in 2013 less any time allowed for sickness, vacation and other absences. The size of the task in hitting our performance objectives looms large. As you look at the Management Information reports today and see the numbers starting from zero it underlines the need for a focus on execution.
Execution to deliver results is all about you and your team being focused on the right things and achieving progress against clear and unambiguous objectives. Already everyone should know what they need to achieve this quarter and this year and have these goals written down, negotiated and agreed upon. If this is something you have not yet done this needs to be your number one priority – the working days available to you are already disappearing…you can’t get them back.
Your goals and those of the team should clearly link to the overall corporate strategy – you need to be able to clearly articulate how the things that you are doing on a day to day basis play a key role in delivering the overall corporate objectives. If you don’t know what your corporate strategy is (don’t laugh, this is common) then go and find out.
Pick just a few Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to track your progress with ‘Key’ being the critical word here. We recently worked with a department in a company where they had 58 supposed KPI’s. This was way too many and after working with them it transpired that whilst there were many Performance Indicators there were only two key metrics which were the foundation for their output. By focusing on these two metrics they were able to dramatically improve their performance.
Get your 2013 plan up and running. Understand who needs to do what and by when. Understand whose support you are going to need to be successful and go and secure that support. Identify the assumptions you are making and consider the risks that may scupper your plans – have some good mitigation strategies ready to go. Set performance objectives for yourself and each of the members of your team. Make the objectives meaningful and measureable.
Good leadership is not a fad like some of the crazy diets mentioned here. Good leadership is critical for business success and equally a good start is essential for a good year.
Here at Zeitgeist we look forward to sharing our thoughts as the year unfolds and if you have made New Year’s resolutions personally or professionally we hope you are successful in achieving your goals.

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