du học
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I believe it was Peter Drucker who said there are five principal functions that an executive must fulfill: Planning, Organizing, Integrating, Motivating and Measuring. I might suggest there are other important functions we could add to this list – things like communicating, building teams, developing people/successors and so on. Yet who am I to challenge the wisdom of the business guru’s guru?

Anyway, if you study the last three functions in Drucker’s list I think we could summarize them in a single word: implementing. For without implementation, the greatest plan and organizational skills produce nothing. Moreover, without results an executive is not likely to remain an executive (at least with that particular organization) for very long. In that sense alone results do and must matter. Good planning, meticulous organizing and great intentions do not.

That being the case I still do not believe nor would I suggest the end can be used to justify any means. The right result achieved through questionable means will ultimately produce some unintended and undesirable consequences. There are both moral and universal laws that attest to that. If you doubt that for an instant, look no further than the recent story of the University of Memphis that just had a glorious 2007-2008 basketball season including its Conference Championship and participation in the Men’s Final Four Tournament vacated by the NCAA due to the ineligibility of one of the team’s players. Beyond that think about all the axioms we’ve heard all our lives that tell us results aren’t everything – sayings like: “cheaters never win” and “it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game” among others.

Yet wasted effort can be equally as bad. In fact, one of the complaints I hear fairly often in my work (and from a variety of quarters) is of the waste of time, money and effort that unfinished and abandoned projects represent. As I’ve come to understand it a great deal of that unfinished business is the result of a lack of follow-through that is a side-effect of that dread disease, priority du jouritis. For those of you that are afflicted or are carriers you need to appreciate the frustration that particular illness causes among an organization’s staff. Moreover, if the investors knew of the waste associated with initiatives that get easily side-tracked they would be up in arms.

I’ve seen it happen so often that I make it a point to tell all of my prospective clients, “If you don’t think you will follow-through on this course of action, don’t hire me and don’t go down this road. For if you do and you do not follow-through any morale problem you have now will be ten times worse when your staffs’ expectations go unmet.”

I imagine many of you have experienced what I am talking about somewhere in your career. Usually it goes like this: With great fanfare leadership assembles the troops to hold a pep rally of sorts where they detail how this new program (read: change) will somehow make the organization better (read: more efficient). The talking heads go on to stress that “if we can all pull together, work really hard and make a few temporary sacrifices we can revolutionize the way our organization goes about the business of its business.” But gradually the momentum and enthusiasm fade as other priorities begin to take center stage. After a time (maybe three to six months) the meetings (and measuring) stop altogether – at least until the next pep rally where the next program centered on the latest business fad and consultant sales pitch is unveiled.

I am not suggesting this malady infects every organization and all leaders for it does not. However, for those of you feeling as if you are in the spotlight know that you do have some options. If nothing else you might stop listening to every consultant’s siren song. However, given what I do for a living I would prefer that not be the route you choose.

Instead if you believe you suffer from priority du jouritis let me suggest three things: 1. Limit the number of major projects you have in process to a maximum of four (three is better) at any one time. You and your people have enough to say grace over with the daily workload and to pile one too many special projects on top of that guarantees none of them get the attention or resources they need and deserve. 2. Make sure someone with the authority and the requisite skills is responsible for implementation. If need be insist the consultant stay engaged while the implementation is taking place. 3. Base a large measure of the team’s compensation on the timely and successful completion of the project. That is to say, “make it in everyone’s best interest to see things through.”

Follow those three big rules and (a couple of other small ones) and your reputation, results and peoples’ morale will all surely increase.

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