It’s December 2013. Did you Achieve Your Goals?

Fotosearch_k6336626Thought you’d like that headline. We have turned the January corner and if you are like many people in the corporate world you are still working on your 2013 goals. Yeah mine are done! Oh that was a bit smug wasn’t it. Well no matter, soon enough you will finalize them, get them approved, revise and then and finally they will be official. Perhaps you are one of the fortunate ones to be able to enter them into some goal tracking software your IT team created in their spare time. Oh boy, that’s a treat. Design is what you get free from your IT department (joke).

So what to do next? Well most of us breathe a sigh of relief that we finished the task and go back to doing “things,” otherwise known as our job. Time passes (quickly) and then there are the quarterly discussions. All of a sudden there’s only thirty days left in the year and panic sets in. “What are my goals? Maybe I should have a look?”

That’s followed by the self-evaulation. Piece of cake right? Naturally you were smart enough to have kept a list of your achievements each week during the year so the self-evaluation is largely a cut and past exercise. Oh, you didn’t do the tracking work? Bummer.

Did I say track accomplishments each week? Yes, you went to work every week right? Certainly you did important things like attend meetings. read emails, participate in fire drills and read reports. Blah, blah, blah. Why show up to work everyday if you don’t accomplish something? My guess is you accomplish a lot, so track it. What could be more important than your year end evaluation? Priorities people.

Pro Tip: Take some time right now, yes today, and write your end of year self evaluation. Transport yourself nine months ahead and envision what you would have accomplished in that huge block of time. Use your goals as a guide and be creative. What did you transform, create, fix, invent? This exercise helps you visualize what you want / need to do. It sets a psychological theme for the entire year. Yes things will change along the way and you will adjust and then re-envision.

Try this exercise, you will thank me.

Knowing where you will end up in December is most important in February.

I wish you success and victory in 2013.

Photo licensed from Fotosearch

No Longer an Empty (Nest)er

02-nest-thermostatI received a Nest wireless thermostat as a present this year and I am beyond thrilled. I know Santa can bring many things so why ask for a thermostat? Most of us don’t give thermostats much thought. For decades the thermostat did not go through any evolution. It was a small, round ring on the wall, usually gold in color. It stayed the same for so long despite the fact that it plays one of the most important roles in the house; controlling the temperature. When we’re cold or hot we walk over to the thermostat and adjust it. It’s a manual process and when we’re not home nothing happens.

More advanced models came along allowing us to program the temperature by day and time. At that point the device shape-shifted to a rectangle and became mostly white. Excellent progress, but still really basic.

One of my pet peeves is when someone walks into a home or office and overreacts to the temperature. Let’s say it’s summer and they are hot. They turn the thermostat down to frozen, but the room doesn’t cool down any faster by setting the temperature to 65° instead of 70°. What happens is the AC runs until it’s 65° then the person feels cold and turns it back up. Two outcomes here. First, the temperature is yet again uncomfortable. Second, wasted energy.

Ok. I’ll get back on track now.

The Nest thermostat is the essence of convergence. Nest not only senses the temperature in your home it also collects information on humidity, light and activity. More data points means more power. It has a touchscreen instead of switches and a beautiful user interface. Nest connects to your wireless network so it can access the time and weather in your area and download system updates. Essentially it learns as I adjust the temperature and uses all the information available to gain efficiency and save energy. You can download smartphone and tablet apps to check in on your home and adjust the temp from anywhere.

Nest Post

It has all kinds of little bonuses built in. Filter change reminders, auto-away, shutting off AC but leaving the fan on to get the cold air out of the ducts, etc. It’s all laid on on Nest’s extremely well designed web site.

We will be seeing a lot of this kind of smartness being built into everyday things, something David Armano (@armano, Managing Director at Edelman) referred to as Sensory Intelligence in his recent collection of Social-Digital Trends for 2013. There is a lot going on in this space today. Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) and Shel Israel (@shelisrael) are working on a new book, “Age of Context” that explores contextual software and how it’s being used today to help businesses and consumers.

The Nest is a bit pricey compared to other thermostats at about $249, but if you are high-tech inclined and looking for even more ways to reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint, this is the way to go. It took me about 20 minutes to install and set-up.

The Business Profit Time Horizon

There are countless perspectives in the business world. The one we are most familiar with and where we spontaneously go when looking for solutions to business problems, is of course our own. But that represents only a small part of the overall picture. Being able to project yourself into someone else’s shoes expands your thinking and helps fill in the puzzle of reality. It is a very useful skill, but extremely hard to do on a regular basis. Honing this art will be extremely helpful as you look to successfully navigate a large company and get things done / change things.

There’s a side benefit as well. You will enrich your own development and round out something that is a requirement to advance to the next level.

One of the tricks I use to help me transport into another’s mind is to try to identify their business profit time horizon. In other words, is their perspective being filtered through a short term, mid term or long term lens? Generally the higher you go in an organization the shorter the profit time horizon becomes (yes profit, because it’s a business). On the surface it seems counterintuitive because leaders at the most senior level are suppose to be visionaries. True enough, but they know if they don’t meet short-term profit goals it won’t matter, because there won’t be long term anyway.

Firms have reporting levels for numerous reasons. One of them is to ensure that bright, focused minds can thrive. Another is to ensure no one person, perhaps working in a vacuum, initiates work. Perspectives are drawn into the discussion and the end result is most often far superior to the original thought (wisdom of the crowd). Senior managers want to know four things. When am I getting it? How much does it cost? What’s it worth? How can you scale it?

Time Horizon Rule of Thumb

  • If you’re a CEO you are trying to close the week
  • CMO’s are looking to close the month
  • The VP’s want to deliver a positive outcome for the quarter
  • This leaves it to the Directors to look at an entire year or beyond

Keeping this construct in mind when I’m working on an idea is helps me anticipate other perspectives. It also reminds me why people make the comments they make when I describe my ideas. What are your ways you break out of your walled garden?

Think + Action = Results

Today we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a man who obviously thought long and hard about important things and how to change them so more people could have equal opportunity to pursue their dreams. Dr. King knew his actions were putting him in danger, but he calculated that risk and determined pursuit of this particular cause warranted such action. Thought alone is never enough. Action without thought will not reliably yield desirable results. Pairing thought and action is what moves mountains.

Many firms have set aside Dr. King’s birthday as an official company holiday. I’m proud to say my company falls in that category. As I awoke this morning I casually checked my Twitter stream; nothing unusual about that. But today it seemed to be positively on fire. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed the volume was higher than normal and the quality and deepness of the created and linked-to content was on an elevated level.

I began to wonder about that. Perhaps it was the day itself. MLK day sneaks up on you. Just two weeks after the long holiday break, we get a surprise day off. We have fewer professional responsibilities. And it’s a Monday at that! Much better than a Friday. There is no family gathering expectation, so no spending time prepping, cooking, entertaining or refereeing family conversations. Instead we can relax and reflect. It’s truly a bonus day. Thank you Dr. King for giving us this gift. Perhaps it was the significance of this day that triggered more in depth speculation over what I would have normally seen everyday.

Which brings me back to my theme today. Think; absolutely. Take Action; required. Things will then begin to move.

I purposely left out speech. It could just as easily have been think, speak, then act. The voice is definitely powerful, but one can speak without much thought. Yes, Dr. King moved us to tears many times with his oratory gifts. But as he once said,

A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.

Here’s one of my favorite Tweets of the day and it has nothing to do with business or social media or frameworks, roadmaps, predictions about the next iPad or anything else that is of marginal value when measured against the backdrop of Dr. King’s accomplishments. Instead, someone thought, took action, then Tweeted. Something is going to happen.