“Think, plan, and inspect to win”

We all have the desire to win.  When it comes to business the competition is routinely ourselves and our goals first, and maybe a competitor or an industry second.   Regardless of the competition or the business, winning does not happen by chance or by us waiting for someone else to guide our hand to the finish line.  

Using our business (MCCi) as an example, two to three months before the beginning of each new budget year we put emphasis on thinking about the new year ahead, what our goals should be, etc..  Two months out we start putting our plans together.  The overall plan is made up of a comprehensive budget, business plans from each sales person, and goals from each Leader/Manager in the organization.  The last part is inspection and it is the hardest, but it is what keeps us on track and ensures things are getting done.  Budgets, plans, and/or goals have no purpose unless they are inspected periodically. 

Inspecting performance makes most people uncomfortable.  They think the purpose is to point out everything “bad” that is happening and to either beat themselves up or have a superior do so.  Sure that happens sometimes, but it only should if the situation calls for it.  Folks that really want to win think differently about inspection.  First, they are passionate about their goals.  Second, assessing where they are is a welcomed event and the best do it themselves prior to having to report to anyone else (We all report to someone, and when we do we should know more than anyone else about how we are doing).  Without inspection the following questions are not asked:  How are we doing?  What can we do to turn that area around?  Who do we know that can help us?  Is there something/someone that we should add to the team to help make a difference?  Is this particular goal still worth pursuing or should we be focused on something else?  What challenges are we seeing that we did not anticipate? etc..  These are not scary questions, they are actually exciting and are what moves us forward towards achieving results.  Not asking them is scary.

A reoccurring problem is that many people feel they have no one to hold them accountable.  Understandably, this becomes an excuse for not inspecting goals/plans periodically.   Well…. There are no excuses when it comes to Leadership.  Those that are caught in this trap must find someone to hold them accountable.  It can be a friend, a mentor (we should all have at least one), or if there is a superior that is not doing a good job holding us accountable we should let them know that we would like that to change.  And for leaders of organizations that feel this way, try building an advisory board made up of people that are looked up to and that will hold you accountable.  

How often should we inspect results, and what should be inspected?  A rule of thumb is no less than quarterly, and for the areas in need of special attention, they should be inspected as much as necessary.  For example, if the organization has a strong sales focus, then weekly sales meetings and monthly reviews with each sales team member makes sense.  The make up of the team should also be factored in.  If the team is made up of seasoned professionals then the level of inspection will be less volumous and the content will be more strategic than tactical.   In summary, there is no clear answer other than a strong opinion that inspection should happen, and that discussions, topics, and intervals should be geared to the specific needs of an organization.

Lastly, this is all hard work.  Creative thinking and hard work goes into the planning and goal setting process.   Discipline goes into inspecting for results afterwards.  What sets us apart as leaders is that we do both, while many never even set goals or put a plan together before starting a new business, organization, or just a new year in an existing organization.  Be proud of and confident in all the work that goes into the process.  And if you are getting ready for a new year, hopefully this message will be as timely as it is for our team.

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