“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra
By Kevin J. Goodman
As this year comes to a close, I thought I would write about year-end reflections along with lessons learned in 2014. As I began to reflect I was reminded that, as in most things, lessons learned are a universal reality, and they tend to repeat themselves in various forms and manner. Some lessons are indeed learned from our mistakes. We are moved to learn alternatives and never repeat them. And some lessons are affirmations of just how to get something done successfully. As a result, we repeat and intensify those actions. This is a piece about going back to the basics for sure.
A few years back we had a new president and CEO come on board. He spoke of the Berra quote and asked us very important questions and provided focused guidance that remains paramount to our ongoing success today:
- First things first, did we know who we were and who we served?
- What is our value proposition?
- Why do we (or don’t we) do what we do better than anyone else?
- Be ready to seek outside guidance to learn, read, watch, listen, attend conferences, and study research and trends to make our team better.
- We reviewed a gap analysis of these items and created an action plan to remediate, invest in, to change, grow, and improve.
As we began this inspection of ourselves and our mission, our president was wise to remind us to consider the predisposition — our human nature to believe your own long-held beliefs of who we were in the marketplace. He carefully challenged us to assess, review, and honor the objectives facts, numbers, and trends.
This process enabled us to come away with a crystal-clear understanding of both who we were and who we were not. We identified through a gap analysis process, a line-item schedule of tasks and priorities we had to complete and/or mitigate to fully become who we needed to be. We arrived at a value proposition. We were a data center first, no matter what products or services we had added or would ever add – that was our core competency. From there we made our mission to become a total solution provider thereby reducing costs and improving efficiencies for our customers.
His leadership was fun and inspiring both. He interjected humor with his wisdom for our introspection process. He would caution us and say things like, “Don’t perfume the pig” or “The biggest risk is to believe our own BS. He quickly guided us to “inspect what we expect.” From this process a clear understanding of who we were was born and has continued to evolve. This legacy of candidly reviewing our standards of operational excellence and being who we are and where we are at has empowered us to remain leaders in our industry. As a direct result, we are continually poised to bring our customers into the IT cloud revolution.
So as this year comes to a close, I am reminded to repeat this back-to-basics review. The fruits of our efforts were clear. Our foreseeable future has been framed as we are delivering, as a multi-facility-based data center and managed service operator, a world-class hybrid model to exceed our customers’ objectives. These types of exercises allow us to be ready to execute and deliver nimble, agile, and certified facilities and staff to continue reducing costs and improving efficiencies for our customers with best-in-class data center services.
As the year comes to a close our team is reviewing a few important basics and reminders:
- There are no endings, only beginnings.
- Review the year’s lessons learned and affirmations.
- Consider the axiom that the only thing constant is change. How is our industry and customer needs changing?
- Review how well we are delivering the age-old advantage of good old-fashioned customer service. How are we making this a differentiator and keeping it as one of our edges and advantage.
- Are we leading by example, and when and where we can are we buying local? Are we helping with economic and workforce development and assisting in bridging skill gaps in our industry and region?
- Are we listening (how can we learn more?) about the marketplace from our customers, vendors, and analysts? Are we capable of coupling that knowledge with our instincts
The value of employees feeling a sense of efficacy from its involvement in this process continues to help build company morale. Time and production equal credibility, and when members of a company deliver, they are seen executing and making the company a better place. Repetition confirms and intensifies, and it becomes a strong and lasting way to deliver a company’s message to a community. It is built to last, excel, and give back in meaningful ways.
Building a giving company culture helps to attract and retain talent. People wish to have a held sense of efficacy — the knowledge of knowing that the company they serve day to day has a genuine desire and ability to affect change and make a difference. The practice of no endings, just beginnings, calls us to finish the year strong. To take a close look and allow the plan to evolve. The year is not over yet. Closure is an important underestimated effort. Stay with the loose ends, clean them up, and move forward. Every day counts, and every day well executed adds value to the company. It’s never too late, and you’re never too young or old to go back to the basics and begin again.