An Open Letter to Executive Management on Next Year’s Change

I know that no matter how well you did this year, you want to perform better next year. If this year was your best year ever, you want to bounce off of that success to an even greater success next year. If this year wasn’t what you wanted—or needed—it to be, then you are right now working on all of the things you are going to change next year to ensure you improve your results.

Whether you did poorly or well, you are going to want to change things. In your mind, it’s your job to lead change. Change is the one big lever you have to move all things and produce better results. But before you do, pause and reflect.

Over the last three years, how many new initiatives have you started?

Of those initiatives, how many of them did you focus on so deliberately, so relentlessly, that you created and captured all of the value that you believed you would?

What new competencies did you pursue? Is your team now world class when it comes to those competencies? Which of those competencies are now bearing the fruit of your efforts in a measurable, defendable way?

Of the new initiatives and competencies you pursued, how many of them would you recommend or implement if you had it to do over again?

Here is the question you need to answer most: Are you really making the changes that you set out to make when you took on those new initiatives, or did they fall by wayside? Did they fail because you were distracted by the urgencies of running the business? Did they fail because you grew bored and apathetic? Or did they fail because you let your team wait you out?

Before you decide what you are going to change, it might worth reconsidering re-initiating what you believed to be critical to your success just twelve months ago? It might be worth considering what hasn’t changed, and whether or not it’s really a lacking in some fundamentals that is your real problem.

Before you decide what to do next year, it’s worth asking whether or not you wouldn’t be better served by improving all of the things you set out to improve over the last twelve, twenty-four, or thirty-six months. Sometimes the right initiative for next year is to improve what you are already doing instead of changing gears and trying something new.

By continually changing form year to year, you aren’t sticking with anything long enough to produce the results you are capable of, and you are teaching your team to wait you out, that you aren’t really serious about your new initiatives.

P.S. I know it’s difficult to defend not changing anything. But sometimes what needs to change is the effort you put into dragging your initiative all the way across the line. Kicking and screaming if need be.

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