Are you currently working on your objectives for next year? What are some of the things we need to consider in writing objectives? What makes a good objective?
Most of us realize that no plan remains intact as written following its first introduction to reality. Those who do not know that are not paying attention. So what do we do about that?
Edward Deming articulated a process now referred to as plan-do-check-adjust (PDCA). The following explanation of Mr. Deming’s cycle would probably cause him to blanch. PDCA is based on the same rational approach as the scientific method: observe, gather data, hypothesize, and test then repeat until you cannot disprove your hypothesis.
Let’s picture this. An executive team is in one of a series of discussions on what the key efforts should be for the coming year. The focus is on creating the new and different. They need something that is going to differentiate them and create an advantage that will sustain them in an increasingly competitive market.
The discussions are converging on five ideas. The problem is that resources for development are limited. Each idea represents a course of action the company has not pursued before. A decision must be made for the plan to be completed, for the budget to be finalized, for the teams to be chartered and for the work to begin. How can we commit to a course of action at a time when we know so little?
What is the difference between invest and spend? In the end, the resources are consumed whether we are investing or spending them. Distinguishing between investing and spending can help you make better decisions.
Are you spending more time trying to reach this year’s objectives or set next year’s objectives? I suppose that depends on how progress is going in meeting this year’s objectives.
Have you ever asked a team to provide stretch objectives? What does that mean anyway? Does that mean you want them to sandbag their regular objectives and then give you a matching set that makes them look like miracle workers? Or does that mean you want them to critically consider the performance they can deliver with the resources you allocate and then develop a set of objectives they cannot reach? Or is there another way?
Have you ever felt like you needed to be a rocket scientist to understand a topic?
I think sometimes we get too buried in detail. We fail to see the simplicity in what we are experiencing. In doing so we end up solving the same problem over and over again.
How many times have you participated in a SWOT analysis only to set it aside and not use it again? How may SWOT exercises miss big issues? Why is that? What are we missing? What would we be able to do if we had a robust SWOT and knew how to use it?
What is risk? How does risk management work? How is risk incorporated into business decision-making?
“What’s the risk?” is often interpreted as what can go wrong? The answer to that question is a scenario. However a definition of risk as something going wrong limits our ability to manage risk.
How many times have you told your team to prioritize? How often is the response an excited and engaged energy that convinces you the team is grateful for that direction? How often do the outcomes match your expectations?
What is the problem with prioritizing that makes it so hard?