A New Year is always a cause for optimism. It’s used by many to drive change and to improve themselves to accomplish their goals. It’s a chance to reflect on the previous year and analyse what went well and what requires additional development – this is where New Year resolutions come in.
A few of the standard resolutions tend to be to give up smoking, to go on a diet, to go to the gym more or to watch less TV. But setting year-long targets is not a productive way to drive these types of change. As humans if we set a year-long target and then 3 weeks into the year we smoke a cheeky cigarette or skip a gym class, then we tend to just give up. The annual target has not been achieved so we just forget about it.
The common business does something similar. Annual targets are set at the beginning of the Calendar or Financial Year and staff are expected to meet these over the course of the following 12 months. Monthly and Quarterly meetings then take place to monitor progress – however, annual targets are rarely changed. If it looks like the goal is out of reach, or the target will be hit within the first 3 months of the year, nothing changes.
At UtilityClick, we do things a bit differently. Since inception we have always tried to adopt a practice of small batch development and agile analysis of our business. Why wait until the New Year to figure out that something isn’t working? Why set year long “resolutions”, which are rigid with a firm pass/fail criteria. Yes, we set annual targets and we have longer-term goals. But they are subject to change. They can be adjusted. If something isn’t working, or the target we originally set is no longer relevant, we pivot. We change the approach, adjust our working practices and regularly review whether the original goalposts we set are still applicable to the current business environment.
So whilst resolutions are useful, rigid annual resolutions tend to be unachievable. Things change throughout the year that can mean that your initial objectives are either much more difficult or impossible to reach. It’s important in business and in personal life to recognise that challenges will occur around every corner. Reviewing performance regularly, assessing the relevance of the initial target and setting new smaller resolutions to achieve your ultimate goal allows you to work around these challenges and gives you a greater chance of success. Agile/Small batch cycles should not just be development orientated, they should be goal-orientated too.
Happy New Year to you all!