What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

Blackhawks vs Sharks, game 4 - 5/23/10
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It’s hard to believe.  2011 has come to a close.  As business leader, you have probably been pushing to hit your year-end goals.  You may have even been too busy to make plans for 2012.

Many people are making resolutions for the New Year and in some cases, they will be broken before you read this post.  As Tim McMahon recommends on A Lean Journey, setting firm goals is preferable to loose resolutions.

Lean Goal Setting will help you set goals that are both effective and aligned with the needs of your business.  Lean Goal Setting is a 5 Step process. The following is pulled from a Lean Leadership article posted in 2010:

  1. Organizational Goal Setting: The process should start with a thorough SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).  Goal setting in a Lean world should be centered around providing improved products and services to your customers.  Yes, you need financial goals for your company as well.  This must be balanced by providing a Quality product for the long-term.  The Organizational Goals need to be limited to a vital few so your company can stay focused. The Toyota Way teaches that the Executive Staff of a Lean Manufacturing company sets goals in terms of Time, Quality, Cost, and Innovation.
  2. Goal Alignment: Goals must be aligned from the corporate boardroom to the factory floor.  The best way to achieve this is for managers to meet with their staff to review the corporate goals and to decide how they can support these objectives.  Start with a clean sheet.  There may be some goals that are not important anymore and you want to focus on those that are.  This meeting can be a valuable strategy session where you agree to actions that will ensure your team achieves its objectives.  If each layer of management ensures their goals are aligned, the goals will cascade to the shop floor meeting the needs of the business.  If not, precious resources will be wasted on activities that are good but not great.
  3. Passionate and SMART Goals: Goals need to be measurable.  How do you know if you are improving if you don’t measure it?  Make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely).   Assign ownership of the goal to someone who has a passion to exceed your expectations.
  4. Goal Measurement: Naturally we want to exceed expectations on all of our goals.  At the same time, nothing is more demoralizing to your team than a pass/fail system of goal measurement.  Teams are discouraged when they make great progress on a goal only to fall just short of the metric and to receive no credit for the improvements.  Use a three-tiered grading system for better long-term results: Green – meets or exceeds the goal and is delivered on time (90-100% attained); Yellow – approaching the goal (80-89% attained);  Red – did not meet the goal (less than 80% attained).
  5. Follow-Up using the Deming Cycle: Plan – Do – Check – Act. Each of the previous steps are planning.  Your strategy sessions with your team is planning as well.  Taking action against your goals is doing. Regular follow-up is where many teams fall down. You should review your progress against your goals and key performance indicators on a weekly or monthly basis.  You should also meet with your team members individually two or three times through the year to discuss their progress.  Mid-year adjustments and ongoing review is the act step.

Goal setting and effective follow-up is critical to business today.  Setting SMART goals and using the Deming Cycle to model your follow up can help you achieve your potential. What lessons have you learned about setting goals?  What works for you?  What didn’t work in the past?  What has made you a better leader?


Please leave a comment below if you liked this article. You can also connect on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, subscribe via e-mail (right side bar), retweet, digg, or stumble this article.  You can check out my Facebook page and continue the discussion there as well.  Your feedback is appreciated.

About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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2 Responses to What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

  1. This is a new perspective for me. I never see it in this structure.

    You may consider including balance score card concept to aligned “Time, Quality, Cost, and Innovation: Focused.

    • Yes, the balanced scorecard is a great way to track the company and site goals which would be part of the follow up (PDCA). The balanced scorecard approach is also beneficial while setting the goals because it help keep you from neglecting a critical area. You wouldn’t want to be so focused on Time and Cost that you don’t set and focus on Safety and Quality goals.

      Great insight. Thanks for your contribution!

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