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The Elusive Objective

The Elusive Objective

Tim Garrett, Principal. Diversified Performance Solutions, LLC.

Do you find it hard to gain traction in objectives such as customer centeredness, profitability or maintaining a competitive advantage? Perhaps the elusive objective is the culprit.

It is not uncommon to find most companies have established and published mission statements as well as frequently vision statements.  These statements are typically used to ensure the organizational team is aware of the corporate mission and in the case of a vision statement the corporate direction. Both of which are essentially designed to bring unity to the organization, and both of which are critical. However, there is at the very least one other critical piece missing in the creation of organizational unity.

Simply pose to a group of leaders in virtually any organization, including yours’, this seemingly basic question:

“What is the #1 objective of your (our) organization?

Based on extensive experience, the response will be something like the following:

1) Facial expressions indicating this question has never been asked before or even pondered.

2) A variety of answers covering the typical areas in most businesses in an attempt to come up with what is hopefully the correct answer, or one that at least align with the mission statement, such as:

  • Quality
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Profitability
  • Safety
  • Value

The question posed is to identify the #1 objective, yet several are named, and rarely will the actual sole objective be identified. It is the same objective in every organization in the world, regardless of business sector and inclusive of all competitors, yet one that is infrequently acknowledged.

The issue here is how can any organization be truly unified towards a common objective when organizational leadership is unaware of the objective, which in turn simply means so is the entire team. Therefore how can any organization be highly competitive when the ultimate organizational objective remains unclear?

Secondarily when the prompted list of assumed objectives is developed they are generally in organizational conflict with each other. If responsible areas, such as quality, safety, etc. believe their area contains the single most important objective then by that very nature organizational conflict will follow. Consequently throughout the working day not only does this internal and natural conflict negatively impact efficiency of operations, it has an equal effect on teamwork. We all wonder some days why departments/divisions fail to get along in a supportive and collaborative fashion.

For any organization to be highly productive they must first be focused on a common objective.

The #1 objective of any organization must simply be LONGEVITY or staying in business.

While appearing to be overly simplistic, it is essential to not only survival, but also a successful survival. By focusing on this single #1 objective the entire organization can become unified and focused. Everyone then essentially has the same job of ensuring continued operations for the succeeding generations, through the very way they carry out their individual organizational roles and responsibilities.

So how is the #1 objective truly achieved? By ensuring every previously listed objective is achieved to the highest organizational level possible. Every action and decision must be geared toward achieving longevity, or it is simply not in the organization’s best interest. The check is done by answering this question-How does this help us achieve long-term survival? Any action or decision that cannot positively answer this question is therefore not in the organization’s best interest. Studying the bank failures of the past few years is a prime example. Likewise inaction or failure to work collectively in a supportive and collaborative way is equally not in the organization’s long-term best interest.

Without longevity there is no quality or customer satisfaction or profitability, etc. Without longevity there are no jobs. Yet it is rarely ever thought of as the single #1 organizational objective. If after reading this anyone questions the logic, simply put it to the organizational test and pay close attention to facial expressions.

So what should an organization do? Actually the process of instilling understanding to the #1 organizational objective is realively simple. Conduct a meeting of the leadership team and pose the same question raised earlier in this article. When multiple objectives are cited it begins to crystallize in the minds of participants that not only is something wrong, but for the first time they are pondering this question. This then opens the door to a very engaging discussion regarding the logic of longevity being the #1 objective. It also then creates the platform to take all the previously cited objectives and solidify which ones are essential to survival. Finally this in turn logically leads to why organizational support and collaboration are essential to long term survival. Once the leadership team embraces this objective concept it ultimately becomes critically important to effectively roll it out to the entire team to ensure organizational understanding. From that point on decisions and actions will be more sharply focused on the true #1 organizational objective.

While the process is simple in nature, ultimate results will be significantly influenced by the facilitation and communication effectiveness.

Tim Garrett, Principal
Diversified Performance Solutions, LLC
http://www.dpsllc.org/
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Tim has over 33 years of hands on practical experience in the administrative/labor relations field. He has worked in both union and non-union environments and has most recently served as Vice President of Administration with Honda of America Mfg., a global automotive industry leader with over $15 billion in revenue and nearly 13,000 associates/employees. He has extensive experience in a wide range of human resource areas and strategic planning including: Leadership and Managerial Mentoring, Compensation and Benefits, Comprehensive Health, Care Management, Retirement/Post Retirement Design and Management, Workforce Staffing and Realignment, Union Avoidance and Campaign Management, Creating a Culture of Excellence

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