Proven Management System Techniques That Work

How using a repeatable method always beats an ad hoc approach

Few people would ever think of taking a trip without a plan. Some of us have a navigation system in our cars or a hand-held one we can carry around. There are many manufacturers of these devices and are pretty inexpensive. Let’s call the one we own Gloria—mine has a feminine voice. If yours is male, you might not want to use the name Gloria so pick another.

Let’s think for a moment about how these machines all work.

First, they contain or can access a map of the territory. Most of their maps cover a very large area. For example, all of the USA and Canada. But, the map is not the territory it’s only a representation of reality. More on that distinction in a bit.

What’s nice about that is you have access to the entire map any time, but do not have to worry about it all. Instead you focus on the road between your current location and your destination. You can use the same technique with a paper map.

Second, you determine where you want to go—your destination or goal.

You need not worry about how to get there.

Simply type in the destination—some of them are easier to operate then others for sure, but you get the point. After that, some machines ask if you would like a quick, short, scenic or freeway only sort of a journey. Once you have decided the best route you are set to go.

Third, start driving. No need to worry about what direction you go! Sally will keep you on track.

Think about it. If you take a left when you should go right, Sally will tell you to, “Please take a U-turn if possible”. Sally never scolds just provides suggested corrective action.

You don’t have to do it, but if you don’t she’ll provide another suggestion, “Take the next available left and then the next left after that”. And, so it goes until you hear, “You have arrived at your destination”.

a system always beats a random approach

So, just how does all this apply to business goal setting?

Far too many businesses don’t operate with any sort of guidance system. Instead, they operate out of what I call an emergent strategy—dealing with what comes up, when it comes up. This is not necessarily a bad concept. If you operate a business in a fairly tight, non-competitive space with few surprises, it could work fine.

In fact, it is fairly simple to install a business navigation system just like the auto system called Gloria. So, it is a remarkably simple way to run a business.

As I mentioned earlier, we all spend our time in the real world and the map is not the territory. A map represents the real land.

But, we need a map or its equivalent. The map we need for a business situation tells us all about our customers, vendors, partners, government, competitors, regulations—the whole environment. It takes the form of an situational analysis. We build this and revise it with periodic situational analyses. Once we have the analysis done, we file it and retrieve it when needed.

Think of all the destinations as goals, targets or objectives.

These goals can be long-term, annual or multi-month goals or short term weekly goals. Think of the actions required to reach them as short trips. Record these goals at periodic meetings and make everyone’s goals available to the entire team. This public exposure is similar to entering a destination into Gloria’s memory.

The individual members of the team will be at various stages of on-track and off-track at any given time. During the periodic progress checking meetings every team member is free to provide suggested corrective action to those individuals missing their goal. Just like the suggestions from Gloria, these suggestions—if followed—are likely to get you and everyone on the team to their business destinations.

If you have not yet done so, install a guidance system in your company and its various teams.