When teaching a CSCP class for a large Target distribution center recently, one of the managers asked me about what drives results across all clients. One of the great benefits of speaking and teaching is that attendees stimulate new ideas and/or insights. I gave him what popped to mind immediately.
However, it got me thinking. Why not share these with my clients as it might stimulate ideas across the board! Here’s what popped into my mind: We gained the biggest benefit when figuring out where to focus attention to achieve the desired end result (such as increasing revenue, profit or cash flow). In essence, what is the priority?
Unfortunately, this sounds so obvious that most people think they have it covered but they do NOT! I’ve yet to meet a client with the following situation:
- Just a few key priorities that were best suited to drive the results they desired
- Key players in the organization (and perhaps key supply chain partners) were aligned on this same page.
More typically, there are FAR too many priorities AND the issue is that they all sound like priorities.
- The Board wants x.
- Our key customer is demanding y.
- There are projects to launch new products.
- There are projects to save costs.
- Employees need education and training to know how to grow the business.
- And the list goes on.
So what should we do? If it were easy, it wouldn’t be so commonplace. Yet, it is doable. We start at the end and work our way back. What are the desired results we need x months or years into the future? Then we look at how we get from where we are to where we need to go. Again, it sounds quite simple but, of course, it isn’t. And then, we look over what we see as priorities and how they fit into what we need to get from here to there.
Next, we look at three aspects:
- What is the impact of the priority?
- How urgent is the priority? This is often confused with impact. Often, they are NOT the same.
- If we did nothing, what would happen? Would the situation get better on its own, stay the same or get worse?
Re-think your priorities. Why are you doing what you are doing? I was just reminded of this recently by a partner. She asked about the results we were achieving jointly and wondered if the level of effort was worth the outcome. I had to say, she was right! What were we thinking? Consequently, we are re-evaluating our priorities.
How about you? It also often takes an outside view to stir the pot to re-think priorities. Are you comfortable? If so, you might want to take another look.