Update from the CEO—November 2020
On Podcasts and Goal Achievement
Podcasts are great! I listen to a lot of them, not the least of which is our own, the GAMUT podcast hosted by Jeff Collins, Idealliance’s VP of Research & Development.
Some of my favorite podcasts
I also listen the “The Fine Line,” about search and rescue in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (terrifying usually). I like “Onto Waveland” about my Chicago Cubs, and anything, really, from The Athletic. Jon Meacham just rolled out “It Was Said,” and the episodes that dwell on Martin Luther King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” (his very last speech in Memphis), and Reagan’s farewell address are absolutely wondrous and heart wrenching.
But my favorite, for the moment, is “The Oath,” hosted by Chuck Rosenberg, formerly a United States Attorney, and now a guest correspondent for NBC. “The Oath” features conversations with individuals who have taken “the oath,” the promise anyone who enters public or military service takes before they assume their posts. And my very favorite episode is one from the second season featuring Leon Panetta. I have always liked Panetta, even though I had him kind of figured as a partisan politician. But I think I’m wrong about that. Yes, he is a Democrat, but that doesn’t really matter when you consider his record of service to our country. He was a congressman from California for sixteen years, White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton (tell me that wasn’t a lot of work!), then director of the Office of Management & Budget (when we last had a balanced budget), then for President Obama Director of the CIA (administered the mission that captured and killed Bin Laden) and then Secretary of Defense. To hear him articulate his commitment and love for our country is just amazing, regardless of your political leanings.
More about the episode—Leon Panetta: Worthy Fights
While the conversation surrounding service, commitment and love of country is real and important, I did take note of a couple of tangential items he also shared with Rosenberg.
The first revolved around a question he said he often gets from young adults about their own careers and what they can do to be more successful. His simple answer was, “Just make sure you do your very best in each position you’re in, and good things will continue to happen for you.”
The second was about strategic planning, and he and Rosenberg dwelt on this because of his service as Secretary of Defense. Do you know that if you include veterans, the number of people under the aegis of the Department of Defense numbers nearly 7 million people? And the department is the largest landowner in the world! Rosenberg’s question was simple, “How do you create and execute strategy given the immensely unwieldy nature and breadth of something so large and complex?”
I won’t get into the specifics, but Panetta’s approach generally is a great lesson for us all, especially when we start to believe that the job is too big for us, or we can’t climb out of this profit/loss hole, or that we have to refocus on how to grow. He said—and again it’s so simple—that he managed all this by goal setting. But there’s a bit more to his goal setting model. He didn’t just talk about his goals, he talked them through and with the participation of his varied leadership (often from competing command centers) they codified the goals that they agreed on. Think of that. You have the Marines agreeing with the Coast Guard agreeing with the Air Force agreeing with the National Guard agreeing with the Veterans Administration – talk about cats, dogs, lions, and tigers and bears…………..Oh My!
But there’s more. His leadership all had to be in alignment with the goals they had set, codified, and were going to put into action planning. And then they had to be assured that the alignment on what the goals were and how to go about achieving them were presented on down the line, still in alignment, so that the troops, as it were, knew what they had to do, why they were doing it, and how they were going to get it done. Simple? Yes, but is it really? I think so.
Goal Achievement Put Into Practice
I’ve used goal achievement as a cornerstone of how I’ve managed businesses and people, especially sales people, throughout my career. Years ago, I worked with a great goal achievement consultant from New Jersey by the name of Mark Reisenberg. Mark held that everybody has goals, but nobody writes them down, or codifies them as Panetta did at the Department of Defense. Mark further said that his experience in the field with clients indicated to him that if goals are written down the likelihood of achievement was increased by 20 times! His program, also very simple, revolved around this finding. Reisenberg says goals must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and trackable. Being a good marketer, he called his goal achievement process SMART. And it was, and it worked.
How many times have you had someone who works for you tell you about a great idea, and when they left your office, or ended the Zoom call, you were left scratching your head? My guess is the idea may have been good but was not even close to being relevant. Ideas like that have nothing to do with nothing, and therefore don’t fit into any kind of model that you use to run your business. Could you imagine the head of the Navy suggesting to Panetta that we should have ping pong tables in the lounges because it will make everyone want to stay at the office longer? That doesn’t have much to do with keeping the ships afloat.
You get the picture. These days, which are so very challenging for us all probably would be made easier if we stopped, gathered the leadership together and worked through five or six things that you must achieve to be successful. Write them down. Get aligned. Then measure and track your progress. We all will come out of this truly unique and challenging time in better shape if we get back down to basics today.
In the meantime, let’s keep all of our civic and military personnel in the forefront of our minds, keep thanking them for their service, and while you might not agree with their politics you cannot fault them for serving our great country.
Enjoy all those podcasts, and if you haven’t renewed or joined Idealliance please consider doing so. We would love to be of service to you!
Dick Ryan, Acting CEO, Idealliance