Since the world didn't end (as the Mayan calendar supposedly predicted), it’s time to look back at 2012 and analyze and evaluate your business goal achievement. Before you start trying to achieve new goals for 2013, it is important to examine the past year. If your business is like most other companies, you will find scattered among 2012 both successes and failures.
Just as there could be several explanations for why the Mayan calendar stops on December 21, there are many factors in every business success or failure.
Here are the steps we follow in evaluating our goal achievement.
Step 1. Divide all business actions into groups matching your business goals for the year. One of your goals might be to discover operational efficiencies that will reduce operating costs by six percent. You might gather under this goal
- new machinery or systems that will reduce production time
- hiring a workforce management consultant to work with your operational and manufacturing managers
- extending the work day one additional hour in the afternoon or morning in order to include one hour for exercise for every employee (based on the believe that people who are in better shape are more productive).
Step 2. Divide the activities you have recorded for each goal into successful and unsuccessful activities. Remember, you are not looking for just any kind of success – you must define success for each activity according to the goal you expected it to achieve (we will look at unanticipated benefits later). For example, if you planned a marketing campaign to bring in 30 new customers each month, and you brought in only 12, the campaign was not successful. If your campaign brought in 50 new customers, it was hugely successful.
Step 3. Next, analyze each action or campaign to determine why it succeeded or failed. Until you know why you were successful, you cannot replicate the success next year. Were you were able to identify mistakes quickly and make a correction or change course? Did you lose a key team member? Was there a change in leadership? Were you modestly successful with actions that produced the desired results, but too optimistic in your expectations? Did you underestimate what you could achieve? Was there a significant budget cut related to the project or campaign? Drill down and talk with the people who were directly involved in each effort.
Step 4. For each activity, ask participants the following questions:
- Why did we succeed, or fail?
- What could we have done differently to change the outcome?
- Did we decide the plan was not working and make a course correction somewhere?
- Were particular people largely responsible for the success or failure of the activity?
- Was the action implemented at the right time?
- Did we tire of the effort and drop the ball?
- Did the plan require involvement of anyone outside the firm? Did that involvement meet expectations?
The point of these questions is to determine what you did correctly and what you did wrong on each activity. Few activities are implemented with no errors. What can you learn about your plans to achieve key business goals, about your implementation of the plans, about the people involved in the activity, and about the results?
Step 5. Look for your accidental benefits of activities in 2012. Accidental benefits are things you discovered or unanticipated positive outcomes (even side benefits) of your activities. For example, your 2012 plan probably did not include social media marketing on Pinterest. If you added this activity at some point during the year, and it brought you a few new customers, you achieved an accidental benefit. You will likely want to continue this marketing strategy.
Step 6. Regardless of your original intention when planning activities implemented in 2012, would you do the same thing again? If so, what should you do differently? Why?
Step 7. Finally, review your plans for 2013. How does everything you learned about your success or failure in 2012 suggest you should modify your 2013 plan to achieve greater success?
On January second or third, it will be time to start moving forward and implementing your new plans. You can give your team a head start on 2013 by taking the time between now and the end of the year to look back, analyze, and evaluate everything you did in 2012. Learn from both your successes and your failures, and fine-tune your new plans. If your firm is like many companies (of any size), your review will identify at least one activity in your 2013 plan you should remove. Typically, you will also identify a few alterations in your plans that will improve the likelihood of success, and you might add one or two activities or initiatives.
Until you take the time to learn from 2012 by looking back, analyzing, and evaluating your planning for 2013 might be flawed. Fine-tuning your plan in light of your evaluation strengthens your plan and improves your outlook for 2013.
By Staff, Little Black Dog Social Media & More