Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Start Planning for 2012

A University of Calgary researcher, Piers Steel, has identified four factors that affect our level of motivation. Our motivation increases as the results of our actions are beneficial and the probability of seeing those outcomes increases. For example, if I know that by exercising more, I will lose more weight. I am more motivated. The probability will increase if I don't make any more changes too--like eating more.

Two other factors reduce motivation with their growth. The longer the delay in consequences, the less likely I'll be motivated. Like the consequences of continued smoking or not exercising, a delay of years will decrease any motivation to make changes today. Similar decreases in motivation occur with retirement savings, or working smarter to improve today's results in an employee-owned company. In an ESOP, participants don't benefit from the results of their work today for many years or decades.

The last factor is impulsiveness. Some relate this to the Emotional Quotient and our ability to not seek immediate gratification. The more impulsive we are, the less motivated we'll be to take action that has long-term benefits. We'll act in very hedonistic ways.

How does this relate to your business? First, recognize that any changes in processes, procedures, policies, strategies will take some time to come to fruition. In many companies, what we change today will be fully realized in six months, as the results from the old practices diminish and the new practice results are seen. So, as of today, almost all of 2011's results are determined. You can affect how things look towards the end of the year, but you can't change the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2011. It's been set and the results are established.

If you have a high degree of impulsiveness, you'll base your changes on Groupon, Twitter, and Facebook strategies. They'll give you a quick hit, a bit of buzz. However, how are you going to sustain those new levels of activity for the long-haul? Your customes will just wait for the next sale, gimmick, spiff, whatever.

If I want to be 20 lbs lighter by July 4, I've got to start working on it now. I can't wait till July 3rd. Likewise, if I want 2012 to be a banner year, I need to work on it now, so that by the 4th quarter, I'm starting to see the results I want in January 2012. Almost all companies set next year's goals and strategies at the end of the year; if they're on top of things, they'll have sessions in the early fall. Even then, they won't see results of those plans till the next mid-year. If I want to a whole year of good results, I now need to begin developing the workforce, estabilishing product innovations, service expectations, removing the obstacles for my customers, and a whole list of other things. Then we'll hit 2012 running on day one.

Starting now, the outcomes will be greater, the probability is greater, the delay will be reduced. Aren't you motivated now? Go for it!

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