Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: Keeping Things in Perspective
Any business has its trials and tribulations, and manufacturing is no different. Whether your business is machining parts and products or servicing those who do, it’s easy to get enmeshed in day-to-day dramas. As one manufacturer of racing car parts recently put it: “I’ve been putting out so many fires I should be wearing a Nomex suit!”
Clearly, it’s hard to keep long term goals in mind when you’re constantly addressing short term issues. In the same way, we can become discouraged if we don’t feel that we’re making sufficient progress.
That’s why it’s so important to periodically take time away from working in our business to work on it. One way to get a fresh perspective is to take time for an objective look at the past, present and future of your organization.
Keep in mind that time is a construct that we humans invented to give us reference points for navigating our way through life. Even Einstein said he didn’t understand it all, so we can’t be blamed for losing our perspective from time to time.
Here’s an exercise that may help: Imagine for a moment that your business is a river that you’re looking down upon from higher ground. You see a small boat come into view, pass before your eyes and then move on down the water. What you first saw is now the past, what you saw next was the present day, and now the boat is moving into the future. Now, imagine your business is like that that boat and consider these questions:
The Past: Where was your “boat” one year ago? What was the state of your business at that time? Were you where you wanted to be? What goals did you set for the next year?
The Present: Compared to this time last year, has your “boat” moved along the river? How well are you achieving your goals? Are you better off now than you were one year ago? Have you added employees, customers, technology? Have your processes improved? Are you more or less productive?
The Future: Where are you going from here? Have you established specific goals for the coming months? Do you have a plan to achieve those goals? If so, how far along are you? What steps do you need to take today to keep the “boat” moving forward?
The answers to these questions may help you recognize the progress you’ve made, identify areas that need your attention, and help in your day-to-day decision making. Chances are you’re on the right path and further along than you thought. If not, set aside time to work on goals and plans, because the future will be here sooner rather than later.