Unless your organization has a culture of discipline, it cannot grow beyond where it is right now. I will be even bolder and say that it might not endure. Honesty in measuring goals is the difference between sustained growth and obsolescence. While we might find a lot of good things our business, church, or not for profit is doing, we must be honest and establish success or failure on the basis of our stated goals.
While we can celebrate some of our successes with press releases, board presentations, and beautiful annual reports, we should be ruthless about evaluating our accomplishments based on our set goals. A smart leader should not ask “what have we accomplished in the past year?” The more important and relevant question should be, “have we accomplished what we have set out to do?”
The first question while makes us feel good and helps build temporary morale, it often leads to spin and a false sense of progress. I learned that lesson from Disney several years ago during my training at the Disney Institute. One of EPCOT’s most popular events was “Barbie Day.” The park’s attendance soared with little girls wanting to see their beloved doll in live action form. One day someone asked a tough but important question, “how does Barbie Day help us with our goal of growing the Disney brand?” After all, Mattel owns Barbie and not Disney. By EPCOT’s stated goals, Barbie day was a total failure. They got more people in, but they gave their competitor a boost inside Disney’s own property. While profitable, the day was not good for the brand.
A culture of discipline is hard to create. As an optimist, I attest to that. I want to celebrate what we are doing that’s good and our wins, no matter how small. However, I must balance that with the reality of our stated, measurable goals. If our annual goal is to increase our bottom line by 20% over last year, then I must not confuse a 30% growth in gross income with 5% net profit as a victory. Yes, we made more money than the year before, yes we were profitable, yes we have more projects coming in, but we failed to reach our goal.
Unless we create a culture of discipline that measures and holds everyone accountable for our stated results, we will never grow beyond the status quo.
How is success measured and rewarded in your organization?