It seems like every year goes by faster than the last. I keep making plans to work on my summer tan, and suddenly, it's November. The holidays will be upon us before we know it and then – boom! We're in a brand-new decade.
Before things get too crazy, this is an excellent time to think about how you can set your team up for outstanding results in 2020. It won't surprise you to hear us say it, but making just some small adjustments in your leadership approach can have an enormous impact. Here are four improvement ideas to consider in the new year.
Take Strategic Planning to the Next Level
Most organizations go through some sort of strategic planning exercise for each new year, but few can execute the strategy successfully. That's because the strategy is planned but not fully deployed. It doesn't become part of daily conversations or activities. Perhaps the revenue targets are well understood and receive frequent attention, but what about everything else.
Strategy deployment changes that by emphasizing goal alignment and accountability. When the strategy is deployed, every individual knows where they fit and how their goals align with the most important objectives of the organization. Regular review occurs to make sure that every element is progressing toward the strategic goals. Key performance indicators that tightly align with the strategy are used to monitor every part of the organization.
Invest in Learning
Your employees are your greatest asset. Anything you can do to make them more effective and engaged increases the value of your organization in ways that other investments cannot. We didn't call this improvement idea "invest in training," because training is only one way to help employees learn. People learn when they are challenged with new assignments. They learn when they work in cross-functional teams, and they learn when they are allowed to lead.
Another way you can invest in learning is to make sure that you have technology designed to collect the tribal-knowledge you develop throughout the year. Everyone gets smarter when they have access to information about what works and doesn't for others. By capturing best practices for improvement, you give the next person a head start.
Incorporate More Visual Management
The statistics about how people process visual information are stunning. According to the Visual Teaching Alliance, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the mind than text. Stanford University's Robert E. Horn, explained, "When words and visual elements are closely entwined, we create something new, and we augment our collective intelligence ... visual language has the potential for increasing 'human bandwidth,' giving us the capacity to take in, comprehend, and more efficiently synthesize large amounts of new information."
When you use graphical displays of information, you make it easier to notice, understand, and remember. In terms of improvement, individual dashboards with charts and graphs are a great way to bring improvement work to life. Wallboards help pull people together and ensure that everyone has the same understanding of current conditions.
Sometimes people think that innovation only happens behind a closed door in the research and development department. That's a shame because innovative ideas can come from anyone. Maybe the idea isn't for a new product, but for a way to change a process to reduce waste or get better results. Make 2020 the year that no good idea goes unsaid.
The first step is to develop trust. Make sure employees know that their ideas are welcome and that trying new things isn't too big of a risk. Next, give your team a way to collect and act on innovative ideas. (If you don't have technology in place for that, we've got you covered.) Finally, recognize and reward success. Let everyone know when employees contribute to positive change.
Continuous Improvement Tools
In addition to these big ideas, there are a bunch of continuous improvement tools that you might consider trying in 2020. After all, every organization should always be looking for ways to improve their approach to improvement — our best wishes to your team for a terrific holiday season and unparalleled success in the next year.