I watched with great anticipation President Obama’s State of the Union address. He explained to Congress and the American public about the many challenges us as a nation face and explained the programs and projects he proposes to address those problems. It seemed like too many to count; the economy, job creation, bailouts, education, energy, two wars, healthcare reform, the deficit, partisan politics and on and on….. During his address to congress he also said he had not done a good job of communicating to America. As he spoke some in the crowd applauded as others sat. This I thought was not unlike the “silos” developed in many companies—when individuals or divisions of labor in a company focus on their functional objectives with the exclusion of the overriding goals of the company and in this case the country.
This all struck a cord with me in my professional life and may have with you as well.
I have had the good fortune of spending a 25 year career in the medical industry and have seen the same thing happen in many companies. Many well meaning executives trying to do too much and not communicating the overriding “One Thing” or goal the company has to achieve in the year ahead. The result is employees all running to their pet projects and believing what they do are the most important components to success in the ensuing year and not seeing the broader picture.
In the go-go 90’s I spent a period of time with a highly touted start-up that went public and realized a huge sum of money doing so. We had four separate project teams for four very complex market opportunities, which only one had FDA clearance. As I walked the halls one morning with a “product in my hand” another member of our company, who happened to be running another project team bumped into me exclaiming… “Where did you get that from, we have been looking for a product just like that for our team”. Astonished I blurted out that OUR Company already makes this.
I realized at that moment we were trying to do too many things at once. We had limited resources and had not done a good job of communicating to the employees our “One Thing”. In fact we had too many “One Things” and had built silos with no outward communication.
Through this and other experiences, I created a solution to focus any company and its employees to achieve great goals. So briefly let me provide a few nuggets that may help you achieve things you had not thought possible.
- Pick a Great Team – Experts in their field of expertise, but can add valuable incites into other areas of the company because they stove to learn more about each other and their functions
- Build Trust - Improve trust by demonstrating vulnerability in a low risk way with team members. Trying to understand each other in a more fundamental way will avoid making false attributions about each others behaviors and intentions
- Create a Common Sense of Purpose – This will help to achieve greater alignment and avoid “silos”. Ask your team what is the single most important goal that we must achieve during this next year if we are to consider ourselves successful—you will get a lot of different answers I assure you.
This all leads to developing your “One Thing” or something I like to call a Thematic Goal for the year. This is a goal where the entire team places an extra emphasis on a single area of priority, so that when push comes to shove everyone knows what matters most. It helps everyone so they don’t pull in different directions, which will lead to paralysis, frustrations and the infamous silo mentality.
In picking the Thematic goal it must not be quantitative but a general achievement goal like Rebuild the companies infrastructure, Grow market share, Have greater expense control—and then shout it from the rooftops so everyone knows!
So what is your Thematic Goal for this year?
About Dale Clendon
Dale has been a Senior Medical Executive with experience in commercializing and leading companies with new and existing technologies into domestic and international markets via start-ups, emerging companies and traditional medical device organizations. Dale is in transition, having recently left Tri-anim Health Services as President and looking for his next opportunity. If you would like to contact Dale he can be reached at DaleClendon@gmail.com or via phone at (805) 493-2942.