Hindsight and Foresight for 2012

December 20, 2011

Learning from the past and planning for the future. As we move toward 2012 we have a wonderful opportunity to evaluate what happened this past year, where we were successful and how and where did we fail. Both provide lessons for our 2012 planning.

Hindsight is the recognition of the realities, possibilities or requirements of a situation or event after its occurrence. Now what happened in the past is no guarantee of what will happen in the future, but, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. So let’s stay sane and learn from the plans and strategies we executed this past year. Why were we successful, the approaches, data sets and implementation that made those work may become best practices. Where we failed, without finding someone to blame, can we learn what went wrong and make changes for how we handle those situations this coming year!

Foresight or forethought is the ability to predict or plan for the future. Strategic planning is not about throwing a dart at a dartboard and seeing where it lands! We need to carefully consider where we have been and where we want to go, detailing how to get there. We plan how we are to build a house. We know we need foundations and structural elements prior to building the roof so why do we so often forget when building our strategic plans to build the foundation first and then the walls? We often jump right into setting the goals and forget to spend time on the details of how to achieve them, how to support them!

So we want to improve gross margin by 2%, increase revenue growth by 5%, capture a new geographical area, increase capacity by 10% and cut time to market and design time by 25%. These are strong and clear goals excellent, but how are they to be achieved. Creating a new competition for the sales team just won’t do it! Detailed timelines and milestones need to be established to work our way to achieving the goals. Setting a goal for a team whether it’s the construction or design team is meaningless if how it is to be achieved never materializes.

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.


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PB-Best Practices