by Lou Feldstein
How many of us set New Year’s resolutions, only to see them forgotten within a few months or perhaps days? New Year’s resolutions, without a doubt epitomize change. They are a direct affirmation that we want to change something about ourselves or our lives. They are an expression of our testimonial hope that we can be different and live a changed life. Sometimes they are small and minor, other times, overwhelming and life transforming. In either case, like organizational change efforts, committing to and achieving the desired goal is tough.
Whether eating less, exercising more, or finding a new job, within a short matter of days or weeks most return to their homeostasis and forget that they even thought about changing.
While this reality might be acceptable to us as individuals, in the world of business, avoiding change is not an option. Looking back at what was, in order to look ahead, is not only helpful … it is essential and critical to any long-term success.
The beginning of the New Year is the perfect time, for businesses or organizations, to initiate this process. Whether the budget runs through December or June, January is the ideal month to look back and vision forward. Winter vacations have ended and summer vacations are futuristic dreams. People are feeling good coming off the holiday spirit and charged up with anticipation of a new year with new beginnings. Now is truly the ideal time to start looking ahead. But to do so effectively the process must begin by looking back.
The process of looking back at 2012 begins with questions. The questions may change depending on circumstances, but here are just three, that in my mind, speak to the core success of any company or organization:
- Great organizations embrace the idea that failure comes with innovation. What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it? Did you reward it?
- Successful organizations are learning organizations. What did you do to create or reinforce a learning culture?
- Sustainable organizations continue to grow. Where was your growth and did it align with your strategies?
Looking back, however, is never enough. It is also essential for success to look ahead and seek answers to the unknown (yes, I understand the irony).
- What will be our greatest challenge in the coming year and what are we going to do about it?
- How do we prepare ourselves for the inevitable pain that comes from amplifying our strengths and eliminating our weaknesses?
- If we let our imaginations run wild, what amazing opportunity may be on the horizon and how do we capitalize on it to enhance our impact?
New Year’s is not just a time for toasts and celebrations. It is also a natural break in an organization’s circadian cycle of daily issues and processes. The New Year is the perfect time to take a good hard look in your organization’s mirror and recognize the actual reflection of who and what you are … and most importantly, what you seek to be.
A medieval philosopher once likened the symbols of the New Year to an alarm clock that awakens us from the slumber of just existing and motivates us to start living a fuller and richer life. It is easy to get swamped and weighed down with the daily grind of management issues. It is easy to get lost in the forest of management details and lose sight of the big picture. It feels comfortable getting mired in the normal existence of the day to day and forget that it is those who constantly challenge and look anew that succeed and excel. The New Year, and the act of creating resolutions, can awaken us to recognize the possibilities that lie before us, and excite us about potential yet unrealized.
Developing a list of New Year’s resolutions is easy. Sticking with them for the long run … that is the hard part. Are you prepared to determine how you need to change, or is your organization, to paraphrase the immortal words of Calvin, “Perfect the way you are”?
Have a happy and joyous New Year!!
Louis Feldstein is the Founder and CEO of Dynamic Change Solutions, LLC a change management consulting practice focused on nonprofit and faith based organizations, academic institutions and mission driven businesses. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.