Monday, January 16, 2012

Determination & Abundance … Words for 2012

Well 2012 has certainly gotten off to a bang! It had been a very restful holiday, filled with quiet family time and wonderful visits, gratefully absent of extended interruptions from work. That festive tempo completely changed as the first week of January virtually exploded into action. A mixture of customer meetings, market visits, planning work sessions, and fresh volume targets all conspired to raise the tension level a bit as we dove into a new year. I guess every year starts like this but for some reason, these past two weeks have made quite an impact! As I look at the year ahead, absolutely filled with exciting and challenging new opportunities, there are two words that keep coming to mind as I look over the horizon on the months to come; “Determination” and “Abundance.”

Noun: 1. Firmness of purpose; resoluteness.
2. The process of establishing something exactly, typically by calculation or research.

This important concept, and some of its derivatives, is front and center in the year ahead. The idea of “firmness of purpose” needs to be the foundation for the 2012. As I think about the getting clear on this idea, I have used a simple three step process that has proved very helpful:

1. “Determine” what winning looks like. Often times we are so busy with the work at hand that it’s easy to forget what we are so busy working towards! What does winning look like for you and your team? How would you measure it, when do you measure it, and how do we know if we’ve won or not? What does winning look like for your company and how closely aligned is that to what winning looks like for you and your team? Being clear on these “winning metrics” is the vital first step.

2. “Determine” your current position. Once you are clear with step 1,”determining’ what winning looks like for you and your team, it is then vital to step back and clarify your current situation. Be harshly candid, using any/all outside resources, to identify your current position in the marketplace vis a vis your goals and your competition. There are times where you can be achieving or exceeding your internal company goals and a competitor is beating you in the competitive landscape. As I mentioned above, be aggressively candid in this step! You will ultimately not be very successful over time if you have a false, limited, or naïve view of your current situation.

3. “Determine” strengths to leverage/gaps to fill. Once the first two steps are accomplished, you should have a clear idea of where you’re going (what winning looks like) and where you are (what is your current position.) If you think about it, you have a pretty good “map’ of the road ahead; now it’s time to work on how to get from “here” to “there.” Everyone, every team, and every business has strengths and too often we begin our work in this are by focusing on the gaps, not the strengths of a person, team, or, business. Start by identifying key, leverageable strengths and work on how best to leverage those strengths in the year ahead. What strengths will most help us win? Which strengths should we leverage first or most in the months ahead? Start with the strengths! Once your strengths are identified, then and only then should you focus on the gaps. What gaps lie in the way of you and your team winning in 2012? What are the top three gaps in your current business situation that if not fixed in the month ahead will most affect (negatively) your ability to win?

By using this simple three step process, you can transform the foundational concept of “Determination: Firmness of Purpose, Resoluteness” into a set of actions that will accelerate success in the year ahead!

Noun: 1. A very large quantity of something.
2. The quantity or amount of something, e.g., a chemical element or an animal or plant species, present in a particular area, volume,...

This second idea, the concept of “Abundance” is primarily a sense of tone, or attitude, for the year ahead. Too often we operate with a spirit of “scarcity” in our personal lives, in the current political campaign, or in our business realities. There’s never enough time, never enough money, never enough jobs, never enough people, never enough data, never enough innovation, etc., etc., etc.; and the litany goes on! You might have heard this over the dining room table at home, or in a management conference call at work. This tone of “scarcity” vs. “abundance” unfortunately permeates so many elements of our lives and in my opinion is a massive DIS-abler! Rather than having a tone of “scarcity” guide the year, it’s my strong encouragement to try a completely opposite approach. We are all so fortunate with having the chance to live in these dynamic and challenging times. I think back to the friends, family members, and work associates that have passed away over the past decade or so and I deeply regret that all of them can’t be here now! Think about your teams, and be energized by the talent and enthusiasm that surrounds you. When I take a moment and reflect on the team of sales, merchandising, marketing, finance, and customer service folks that I work closely with today, I am humbled and appreciative to be part of that group! Just as I encouraged you to be aggressive and candid in your assessment above, do the same here. We are lucky to have a chance to live and work in interesting times, with wonderful people and while we have an infinite inability to affect the past, it’s an honor to have an infinite chance to make tomorrow better than yesterday!

My strong encouragement is to dive into 2012 with full vigor, working on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Leverage the two concepts of “Determination” and “Abundance” in order to set an aggressive plan for the year ahead and an appropriate tone to make that plan a reality!