LEARNING AND INNOVATION
By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Prioritizing key result areas helps achieve vision, mission
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving."
After you have determined and affirmed your strategic drivers and core competencies and wrote them in the form of your Vision, Mission and Values (VMV), it is time to move on in that direction.
Now, don't act in a rush. Hold that excitement!
I am reminded of this email I got from my friend Ethel Bondoc of the Eugenio Lopez Center in Antipolo. The story from an unknown Harvard student goes this way:
At Harvard I had a professor who taught us in one lecture the subject of management. One day this professor spoke to us-a group of business students-and, to drive home a point, used an illustration we will never forget.
As this man stood in front of us he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"
"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One student raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!"
"No," the professor replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all." What are the 'big rocks' in your life? A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in FIRST or you'll never get them in at all.
That's the Planning Process in a nutshell. The jar is our VMV. The big rocks are your Key Result Area (KRA) and Big Goal. The gravel and sand are your critical and specific objectives and the water are your action plans.
The important thing to remember is that you put in your big rocks first. If you put your water and sand and gravel first, it will be difficult to squeeze in the big ones. And that is what we do in real life. We concentrate on filling our jar with water and sand and gravel. In our business, we concentrate on our day-to-day activities. We strive to be busy. We are looking down at our busy hands instead of looking up to our VMVG.
KRAs are the areas in your organizational life in which you must achieve significant results for you to accomplish your Mission toward the path of your Vision within your planning horizon. These are areas where the efficient and effective use your resources will be concentrated. They will guide your company's priorities in the next five, 10, 20 years.
For each KRA, you need to determine success indicators. This is where you need to put on your analytical thinking cap. When you have done this, then you put them together and write them out as your Big Goals.
Let me give you a few examples I gathered from the Internet for an educational organization.
KRA 1 Research
Goal 1 To develop world class research and researchers
KRA2 Learning & Teaching
Goal 2 To move toward a flexible higher education
KRA3 The global perspective
Goal 3 To develop international perspectives and global operations
KRA 4 People
Goal 4 To invest in our own people
KRA 5 Quality Assurance
Goal 5 To continuously search for quality in everything we do
You can actually have about three to six KRAs and three to 10 Big Goals. The other use of your KRAs is as a guide to your organizing of structuring reporting and working relationships among your employees. Your KRA would be the best basis for your organizational structure.
We'll specify some more in the next leg of this your Journey in Entrepreneurship.
(Moje Ramos Aquino, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp, facilitates Strategic, Operation and Action Planning initiatives. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org)