Whether we realize it or not, we tend to think the things we are involved in are pretty darn good. And if they are not, well, that is probably not our fault. Before you can make strategic decisions that will help your company grow, you may need to take off those rose-colored glasses and look closely at where you are now.
Are you making excuses?
Company not growing? Well, look at the economy! Employees not committed? A sign of the Y Generation! Profits down? Can’t raise prices above our competitors! Are those reasons or excuses?
Consider that in tests conducted to study self-perception, people generally grade themselves higher than others do. We believe we are working hard, doing our best, regardless of the actual outcome. It is human nature to think well of our own efforts as we know our intentions. The question is, when we consider the current performance of our businesses, are we being honest with ourselves?
When I work with clients I often ask them to give themselves a grade on key objectives or initiatives. When they do that, the tendency is to want to grade on how much effort went into it rather than the result. The truth is, in business, the result is what counts. So ask your management group what grade you earned on your performance last quarter.
Are you giving yourself a reality check?
With the rose colored glasses off, start asking questions that will help you make the changes that need to be made.
Try asking yourself these outside-in questions:
What are we doing that we could stop and nobody would miss? There is inertia around anything that you have been doing for a while, especially if you do it really well. It is important to evaluate your activities, your products, and your practices against how well they align with your current goals and the current marketplace. A product or service, a marketing slogan, a brand that once served you well may no longer be a great use of your resources.
What could we start doing that would be so important we could stop x, y, and z? Changes in demographics, in technology, regulations, or your industry may present new opportunities for stopping some of the activity you are currently engaged in. What has changed that could improve your operations or open up opportunities?
Are you satisfied with your progress?
Do you need do so some growth planning and make some changes? Here are some questions that can help you assess where you are and where you need to be:
- Are you sure which direction you should be taking your business?
- Are you consistently hitting the original forecast?
- Are you growing?
- Do you have a manageable number of projects on your radar that are taking you where you want to go?
- Are your projects reaching your ROI goals?
- Does your staff know what they should be doing and how to solve any problems that stand in the way?
- Is your staff satisfied with their workload?
- Do you have a satisfactory percentage of market share?
- Are your margins holding steady?
- Are you gaining customers and/or is the average customer order increasing?
- Are you shortening your sales cycle?
If you have to answer NO to these questions, it may be time to look more closely at what you are doing and what the current opportunities for you are.