It’s that time of year again


Only six weeks remain until 2016.  Just as we will likely continue to write 2015 by force of habit, so will we continue old business habits if we don’t commit to and solidify change.

Take these actions to use December wisely.

  1. In less than one hour, reflect on 2015.  What has worked?  What has not? How should those lessons be incorporated into 2016 and beyond?
  2. In less than 60 minutes, reflect on the trends over the last two to three years.  What is changing too slowly?  Where are you lagging competitively?  Have you built the foundation to springboard to breakthrough in 2016?  If not, identify the root cause of that failure.  Experience tells me it is often a short-term outlook coupled with a fear of substantive change. Determine what is holding you back.  It doesn’t take weeks to do so; the answer is sitting there waiting for you to say the words.
  3. In less than one hour, clearly state the biggest opportunities and threats you see to your business in 2016 and beyond.
  4. You now have a framework for setting priorities for your 2016 strategy. Do so in less than one hour.  Leverage the opportunities while making the threats irrelevant.  Verify those strategic priorities are consistent with your mission, vision and values, and reflect what you’ve learned in actions one to three of this list.
  5. In less than 60 minutes, identify what you must change to execute those strategic priorities.  Look for commonalities and dependencies.  As they will likely require shared resources, prioritize those actions.  That means number them sequentially, beginning with one.  Although all are important, only one can be your top priority. Determine clear and accepted accountabilities for making those changes.
  6. In less than one hour, review every major project currently under way and planned for 2016.  Any project that doesn’t align with strategic priorities should be brought to a halt.  Those that do should be resourced and prioritized reflecting the accountabilities in #5 above.

Even accounting for dawdling, two breaks and lunch in one workday, you have set the course for next year.  Now stick with it.

Weekly status meetings will beget professional disagreement, and that’s healthy.  More importantly, it will reinforce the focus that your associates must see from leadership. Monthly “what is happening that could require course adjustment?” conversations are a necessity in our fast-moving world. No knee-jerk.  Consider and estimate risks of changing and not changing course.  Circle back to Action Item #2 above, looking both at the whole and the recently recognized change.

Don’t waste Q1 2016 creating a document that is late, disordered and detached.  Choose instead to invest a day this year to create a concise repeatable process that will make yours a more robust business.

As published in AME’s Target Online