Where did the first three go?

It’s March and we’re nearly to the quarter pole in 2012. Are you where you wanted to be when the year began? Have you implemented the things you wanted? Started and finished the projects you set out to do? If you have, Congrats!. You’re doing more than 99% of your competition and other business, I strongly suspect.

Implementation is one of the biggest problems I see with most businesses, both large and small. Particularly in getting things done in a timely manner. You need to do everything possible to decrease the time laps between having a good idea and acting upon it. For most there is a huge lag between idea and implementation. Often during that lag time, somebody else beats them to the punch or they get sidetracked or the idea gets picked apart and destroyed. The shorter the time between idea and implementation, the better. I Iacocca/Chrysler convertible story is an example of compressing the time in a typical new product R & D process – from years to days.

If you haven’t heard the story, here are the highlights. Lee Iacocca was touring the factory floor asking his factory line workers their thoughts on the company’s future. One man asked why they didn’t have a convertible as one of their vehicle offerings. This man thought that a convertible would be a huge hit. Iacocca asked the man how he knew that to be true. The worker replied he didn’t but he could easily drive around the city and see if the convertible turned any heads. Iacocca immediately ordered the top cut off of Chrysler Le Baron coupe that was just coming off the end of the assembly line. The maintenance crew shows up with a metal saw and “chopped the top.” Iacocca then got in the car with the worker and drove around the city to gage the interest. Sure enough, the car turned a few heads and Iacocca approved its production based on that immediate market research.

Think about how long that would have taken during a traditional approach? Months and months to do the research, get engineering involved, market test groups, etc, etc. Nope. Not this time. Cut the dang top off and drive around town to see if any women look at you. Make the car. It worked.

I sit here amazed at how fast time goes by. One minute I’m writing a December newsletter about the end of my football season and in the blink of an eye, I’m setting some aggressive goals for the Division One conferences I’m trying out for this spring. (in case you are wondering: SEC, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Ohio Valley)

I don’t know about you but I have some pretty aggressive goals that I want to accomplish this year, both professionally and personally, and with three months gone, I must stay focused. Doing only activities that align with my goals, I must say, is easier said than done given all the interruptions we typically have in our days.

As I close out this month’s column, I want to challenge you to do a quick evaluation of your progress you’ve made towards goals set, resolutions made, promises promised. Make course corrections needed (that’s a Navy term) that get you aligned again if you happened to drift off course. Review those goals weekly, post them up for the world to see (my goals are on my dresser mirror at home so I see them every morning getting dressed). Good luck on your journey.

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