Missed your first quarter goals? 3 keys to getting back on track.

If you missed your first quarter goals, it is time to get real. In a 2015 study, Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor at the Dominican University at California, conducted in-depth research on goals setting. Her results are as follows: When goals were written down, executives were 39.5% more likely to succeed. Executives who wrote down their goals for bi-weekly accountability with an executive coach or mentor were 76.7% more likely to achieve their goals. Granted there is more to hitting a goal than merely writing it down.

Eliminating the unproductive

In a recent engagement, a client had two products, with services, representing approximately 20% of their overall revenue. When we went deep, in order to see the real costs associated with these products, we found these products were actually losing the company money. Until the products were shed, they could not realize the real impact.  Once the products were removed from the offering, our team prepared, equipped, and supported the impacted team members to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes, otherwise known as change management. In that year, the company’s overall revenues fell 5%, however, the net losses decreased by more than 70%. In 2017, we kept the team focused on the sales of the core offering, and the company recognized a 32% increase in overall sales. The net profit significantly increased to a positive $500,000. If 2018 stays on track, the company will realize an additional 30%+ growth.

More is not always better. In many companies, like GM, the reality of having too many products will eventually drain the company. (This is a recurring them on MSNBC’sSharktank). Don’t assume a service offering add-on to your products will always yield bottom-line returns. Per this example, you need to identify your core strength, continually say no to offerings that do not elevate, bring additional value, and add bottom-line results. It is not just about shedding unproductive products or services. If you know a person, strategy, product, or partnership just isn’t going to get you what you need, make the hard decision early and free up your resources to find a solution that will meet your real business need.

Apply Design Thinking Principles

Use methods, like design thinking, to identify products and activities you do (or could do) that truly create value for your customer. Design Thinking is a methodology used by trained designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer).

·      New pricing methods, new products, less products, etc.- Benchmark against the competition.

·      New markets to enter and markets to exit- Gain access to market data and read deep into your data.

·      Key strategic relationships- Gaining more market access, profitably.

·      New design features for an existing product or service.

Accountability and Adjustment

As Winston Churchill once said, “The price of greatness is responsibility,”and the success of the company is a responsibility that begins with the CEO. The CEO cannot settle for half-measures when disruption abounds. Holding an executive accountable is not about judging, blaming, telling the him/her what to do. The objective in accountability is about working with the executive to find out why the goal was missed. In some cases, they don’t take proper action or shed responsibility for a KPI that is under their direction. Resolving the issue takes two approaches:

The simple approach- We ask the client what he/she will do next. How will he/she correct course? The executive coach must get deep and specific as possible, so that there is no doubt about whether the executive did what he said he would do.

The difficult approach- It is most difficult to address the situation when an executive doesn’t do what he said he would do. When this happens, it can be challenging to decide how forceful to be, however, accountability is required. The more the responsibility is shunned, the deeper the coach must go. Do they recognize the impact to their organization for missing a stated objective and goal?

In both cases, the executive must recognize the failure or missed opportunity and take necessary actions to correct course. The key to adjustment is to adjust in a measurable, calculated manner. One swift adjustment can throw things off and create a deeper issue to resolve.

To achieve your second, third and fourth quarter goals, be sure to write down your goals, keep them visible, share, and ask a mentor or executive coach to hold you accountable. You may need to make a pivot. Utilizing design thinking, you can gain great insights from team collaboration, coupled with client input and market data. Do not be afraid to eliminate products, services, partners, employees, and even unfulfilling executives. Like Jim Collins states in the bus analogy, ensure each person is in the right seat, on the right bus, and going in the right direction. If you do each of these, the next quarter goals will be in reach.

 If you desire to read an excellent book on Design Thinking, get Change by Design by Tim Brown. How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires.
Mitch Smith
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