By Paul E. Beers
They say there is no substitute for experience and when you get older you get wiser. I have been a businessman for over 35 years and a consultant for 27 of those. Over the years I have experienced success and failure. As time goes by there are a lot more successes than failures. And failure is not necessarily a bad thing if you learn from it. One takeaway after all these years is that if you define a desired outcome and focus on it, the chance for success greatly increases.
I participate in an entrepreneurial coaching program called Strategic Coach. They form workshop groups of successful entrepreneurs and meet four times a year to coach them with how to grow personally and professionally. They also provide tools to help grow and multiply. One of my favorite tools is called The Experience Transformer. It focuses on a past experience and you list out what went well and what didn’t. Then it asks: “if you could do this experience over again knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?” You list out the improvement ideas and then create a series of action steps to improve the experience next time around. After doing countless Experience Transformers, one improvement item that consistently appears is that I should focus on the outcome from the start, rather than taking a series of actions and then try to achieve it.
Over the years, we can look back and find many things that in hindsight, might have been done better. Implementation of new software, hiring or firing staff members, marketing campaigns, business processes, choosing office space, training, technology upgrades and many others are all things we probably could have done better at times. Thinking back, had we focused on the outcome we wanted to achieve from the onset, we would have gotten a better result.
Any new initiative can begin with focusing on the desired outcome. For example, let’s say that GCI wants to expand to a new territory and must develop new business in that area. Which do you think would work better? Hire a salesperson in the local market to go meet people and sign new work, or develop specific sales goals and then develop a plan for how to achieve them, which may include hiring one or more sales people in combination with a series of other actions? Obviously the latter, which starts with the outcome and then develops an action plan with a series of actions (which also should focus on outcomes). By the way – long ago we tried the first option and it, of course, didn’t work very well.
On the technical side, our clients always focus on the outcome. They don’t want water leaking into a building. Or, they want an exterior façade that can withstand hurricanes or earthquakes. However, where we see gaps are not developing a strategic plan around the desired outcome. Is it enough to hire an Architect and Contractor to take care of this? What about hiring specialty consultants? The answer is maybe. Hiring a team is a good start, but there must be an integrated plan in place that engages all of the stakeholders to team up and achieve the desired outcome on time and within budget.
At GCI, we train and mentor our staff to see the big picture and focus on a successful outcome. This starts with defining the desired outcome at the beginning of an assignment and providing guidance and leadership to the entire design and construction team to achieve it. We must always strive for the desired outcome regardless of any obstacles encountered along the way. When the project team works together, overcomes challenges and adversities, and stays focused on the desired results, the result is a successful project that everyone can be proud to have been a part of. GCI has been a part of successful projects time and time again and it is very fulfilling and rewarding.
Our company and team members are presently very busy and very successful. We are always looking for ways to improve both on the technical and business sides. We recently had our annual Company Meeting, which resulting in several exciting process improvement ideas, for which we have developed the desired outcomes and began development. We also are organizing an internal technical conference where we will bring in manufacturers and technical experts, so our team can stay on the cutting edge of advancements in our industry. On jobsites and in business, I sometimes hear “that is how we have always done it.” Well, the status quo represents stagnation and to grow, one must seek out new opportunities and focus on the desired outcome.