I’ve always been a planner. I like to write down goals and work toward reaching them. This is probably as a result of being a career sales guy. Or maybe it’s just the opposite. The fact that I plan and have goals has made my sales career a forgone conclusion. Either way, I like putting together a plan and executing on that plan. Loose ends drive me crazy.
Back in 2008, we were cruising along executing on our business plan when all hell broke loose. Nothing was going according to plan! Every day was reactionary based on what fire needed to be put out. It was all hands on deck. The plan was to do anything and everything we had to to survive.
Well, thank God those days are behind us. In fact, business is better than ever. We just celebrated our ten year anniversary. Back to planning and executing.
At the beginning of 2012, we decided to get serious about long term strategy. I met with my business partner and my VP of Marketing and put together our strategy for the coming year and beyond. We did this by category. Finance, Operations, Sales, Marketing, Personnel and Facility all had goals and a plan to meet those goals. All was well. We made great progress, but something was still missing.
I realized that if we want to make great strides as a company, every single member of the team needs to be focused on our goals and know exactly how they can help us reach those goals. Senior management can only do so much in pulling the rest of the team toward our goals. Just imagine the effect if every team member was pushing toward our collective goals.
The first step was to identify a general corporate philosophy to use as a guide or structure to help us achieve a high level of cohesiveness. We decided on The Oz Principle. For those of you not familiar, the Oz Principle philosophy is based on personal and corporate accountability. Looking at challenges through a lens of how individual behavior can be part of the solution. No blaming or pointing fingers, only what one can do to improve, or have done better to avoid a problem all together. Constant improvement. The Oz philosophy is simple and it’s easy to sustain over time. Perfect.
The next step was to drive the philosophy from the bottom up. We scheduled an off site training with the Oz team for our Directors. This covered Finance, Operations, and Sales. They returned excited and energized. It was eye opening for our team to see how each one of them had a bit of a different idea of what our corporate goals were and how their role impacts achieving them. They let me know in no uncertain terms, we have work to do. We are not on the same page. What is this saying? The first step is admitting there’s a problem?
What happened next resulted in the best meeting I have had in our ten year history. The entire management team took a half day, off site, to meet and get on the same page. I will admit the process was more difficult and time consuming than I thought . After five hours of debate, at times quite heated, we had distilled down our corporate goals to just three, very specific goals. All designed to add maximum value to our customers.
The next step was to tie in a very specific way each and every team member will contribute to achieving each goal. The idea here is to ensure at any given time a team member can ask, “Is what I am doing right now helping me/AG reach goal X, Y or Z?” If not, stop and do something that will.
The entire management team is excited about the level of clarity and focus this process is bringing to AG. The analogy I use to describe this paradigm shift is having an entire team of 60+ people pushing the cart vs. the management team of 12, pulling the cart. The difference will be exponential.
I’ll keep you posted in future blogs as we progress through reaching our goals.