Thursday, January 29, 2004

Knowing which road to take

Business Times p.B8
Friday, January 29, 2004

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Knowing which road to take

IT’S been said again and again to worry only about today because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is yet to come. So why plan? Why set goals?

Let me refresh your mind on this conversation between the Cat and Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“As long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

The world of business is no wonderland if you don’t know where you are going and what you want out of it. You need to be decisive on what you want to achieve guided by your Vision, Mission and Values or VMV.

Your VMV are the lifetime goals of your enterprise. You need to set long-term and short-term goals to reach your lifetime goals. Then your objectives and action plans to realize your big and small goals. As Celia Tejada, senior vice president of Pottery Barn, remarked: “How can you be a big company if you don’t own your own destiny?”

By knowing what you want to achieve, you can optimize your limited resources and concentrate on the more important aspects of your business. By having goals, you and your employees are constantly achieving, renewing your motivation, developing your capabilities, improving your productivity, gaining more self-confidence, increasing your self-satisfaction, overcoming your obstacles, sharpening your managerial and leadership competencies, gaining momentum for bigger and higher goals.

Your long-and short-term goals are Outcome or End Goals. At the end of the day, what do you want to attain? What tangible results do you want to spend your resources and energies on? For example, “By the end of this year, to reduce operating expense from 10 percent to 5 percent of sales with the current manpower complement and without lowering existing product and service standards.” “To realize an increase in net profit of 5 percent per annum.”

Your long-term goals are those that are worth pursuing, motivating, purpo­sive and have a probability of success given sufficient time, effort and resources. These goals are something that you could hold, see, smell, taste, feel and hear. They should be something that you could store in your memory and play again and again in your mind as you go through your daily business and act on your short term-goals.

You tell me not to count the chicks before the eggs are hatched. So you don’t want to plan because your hens might not even lay eggs. So you are not doing anything until you actually see those eggs and in fact hear chicks chirping. When these happen, then that’s the time you act—you run around, you prepare all the necessary materials, you construct a bigger poultry house, you hire the needed people, etc. Imagine all these things happening. Imagine the stress, anxiety, the wishy-washy performance because of lack of focus and concentration, the feeling of being overwhelmed with a million things to do at the same time.

Picture your 30 hens laying 100 eggs. Picture 70 chicks coming out of eggshells. With that picture in mind, you start to prepare your poultry business. That’s planning. You are determining the futurity of your actions today. It is not a dream or a simple wish. It is a calculated risk. Drew Neisser, president of Renegade Marketing Group, warns: “To not take risk is to risk being ignored.”

Next Friday, we’ll discuss how to set goals. Hang on.

(Moje Ramos-Aquino, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp., facilitates Strategic Thinking and Planning Workshops, among others. Her email address is moje@­

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