Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A New Year Sanity Check

2016 is underway and it'll be February before we know it. As per normal at this time of year, much is being written about resolutions; who's making them, why they fail, and whether or not we should even bother. Resolutions are great, if you like that kind of thing, and congrats to all those who do actually set, keep and achieve theirs.

Funny thing is resolutions seem to be the exclusive territory of individuals. While some people might set resolutions with a work related component, e.g.: better work / life balance, change jobs, finish a degree, I can honestly say I've not heard any from organisations or that relate to work-place behaviours or activities.

Perhaps this is a missed opportunity...
Boards, Executive teams and organisations as a whole are pretty silent on the whole New Year resolution thing. In one way this makes perfect sense as one calendar year merges into another and it can be successfully argued that 'personal areas for improvement' are well covered during annual performance appraisal processes and development plans. On the other hand, with Christmas behind us and our batteries recharged after a short break, it could be the perfect time to take stock.

I'm not suggesting management establish a whole new level of bureaucracy or process in order to collectively create New Year resolutions on behalf of the organisation. That'd be a bit silly. What the start of a new year offers is an opportunity for management teams to take stock of what's going on, by themselves and in general terms with peers and staff. This could take the shape of a detox (see 'Project Delivery - 5 Areas Ripe for Regular Detox') or, better yet, a New Year Sanity Check.

Without duplicating other areas like the PMO, or getting in to lots of detail such as auditing the business plan, managers could sanity check their own perceptions through a quick snapshot. They could do this by asking some very simple questions and gauging their immediate responses:

1. What are we doing?
  • Work in progress
  • Work not yet started
  • Work about to finish
2. Why are we doing it?
  • Business need; operational advantage, market driven, competitive advantage, regulatory
  • Strategic driver
3. What will it give us?
  • Deliverables / outputs
  • Capabilities
4. How are we tracking it?
  • Measurements
  • Benefits
5. Do we have everything we need?
  • People, process, tools
  • Funding, time, support
6. What positive and negative contribution is my behaviour making?

With information overload it can be difficult to filter out the noise and take stock. Those with a highly tuned antenna can do so on the fly but sometimes it's good to pause for a moment lifting our heads up so we can see what's going on from a different point of view. This sanity check helps you do exactly this.

So this year forget the resolutions and sanity check instead. Take the opportunity to continue to improve how you interact with others, the organisations, and the work you do.

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