Jack or Jill of all trades…

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Are you short of business?  Are you tightening your belt this month?  Does this time of year spell disaster?

Fear not you can have all the business you want if you’re willing to loosen those business objectives, the ones that define what you do, who you are, what you offer.

AHHHHHHH!

The route to no-where, anywhere, but definitely not place you wanna be.

It’s highly unlikely that your company is gonna pursue just one objective, in fact it never will follow just the one.  You have too many stakeholders for a start, who all want something different:

EMPLOYEES:  higher wages, job satisfaction, employment security (probably in that order)

SHAREHOLDERS:  dividends, capital growth

FINANCIERS:  interest on loans, loan repayment (almost certainly in that order)

MANAGERS:  salary, power, status, perks, challenging tasks, opportunity to develop (you pick your own order)

CONSUMERS:  affordable products/services, value for money, safe products, quality products, on-time delivery, the best payment terms

Objectives are generally quite clear, certainly clearer than a statement of mission.  If you don’t know where you’re headed then you’re gonna get there!  So have clear objectives, keep them simple and not so many of them.  They are going to have to translate into work activities at some point.  And make them measurable, measurable, measurable.  I repeat MEASURABLE!!!!!

So if all you want is short, and I mean really short-term profit then you can be a Jack or Jill of any trade you like.  But, if you’re looking for meaning within your business, a repeatable route to profit and any other objective you care to set then be absolutely clear on your objectives and stick to them. 

Now I don’t mean be inflexible, I mean stick to your objectives which may change from time to time, actually will change from time to time.  As your business grows, shrinks, develops, changes; objectives will change, migrate to reflect the market you are in and where you are in that market.

You could eventually try allowing your teams to set their own objectives (targets).  Let them decide who’s in charge, what the objectives are (within the setting of the overall business objectives that is), how they organise themselves, who they hire (fire); at this point I also say keep it legal.  But most importantly if you do this make sure that what is agreed is clear, an objective and is MEASURABLE.  If it can’t be measured don’t allow it.

Plan, if you plan you wont, or at least shouldnt be faced with the questions about being a Jack or Jill outfit.  You’ll know when the lean periods are gonna happen and you’ll be prepared.  You’ll have measured performance, set the objectives relative to the business environment prevalent at the time, focused your teams on meeting the agreed objective(s), they might even have set their own if you’ve been confident and liberal enough (word of warning here; only let those who are capable of understanding whats actually required of them to set their own objectives otherwise it will get messy and it’ll be you who’s left to pick up the pieces so be really careful on this one) and on the basis of the results, what you know have sized your teams and output accordingly.

So forget the fuzzy wuzzy be nice to everybody (but try anyway because it really wont hurt you to try) feelings.  Be clear, precise, hard-headed and focus on your objectives.  It’s the only way, measure it, evaluate the results, do it again and measure some more.

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