A Message from Al Cleinman: Planning Ahead

As the leaves turn and we enter into the planning season (you ARE planning your upcoming year, right?), I’m reminded that leaders are responsible for setting the vision for their firms.

As the leaves turn and we enter into the planning season (you ARE planning your upcoming year, right?), I’m reminded that leaders are responsible for setting the vision for their firms. Regardless of the size of your enterprise, it’s important to sit back and review where you are and where you desire to be. From there, it’s even more critical to share that vision with your team and to have them engaged in the development of the plans on how they will best support your vision.

Business, in many respects, is a game. Like football. Imagine being a player on a team where there’s no goal and no scoring. At the end of the day, everyone knows that they’re tired, sweaty, smelly and hurting … but no one knows what was really accomplished. What’s the object of the game, the goal? Is this going on in your business?

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
— Lewis Carroll

I find it fascinating that optometry is the business of vision, but so many optometry practices are without! As the leader, whether of an entire enterprise or a department, it’s your solemn responsibility to provide your team with a clear understanding of where you’re going. In many respects, this vision is far more important than the map of how you’ll get there. But one cannot exist without the other. And lack of planning is a root cause for under-performance.

We see this all too often. We hear from professionals who go to workshops and seminars and are thrilled that they come away with scores of ideas. When we follow-up, we often hear, “I shared the ideas with my team, but nothing happened.” This inability to execute is most commonly the result of a lack of clarity in planning. The world is full of good ideas. They’re a dime a dozen. But an idea that isn’t in line with the goals of the business won’t likely see the light of day and probably shouldn’t. Such random ideas often take you and your team’s eye off the prize. Further, in our over-informationed world, it’s even more critical to seek clarity and to focus the majority of your energy on those few opportunities and challenges that will deliver the most significant result.

Being successful in your business is largely the result of luck and hard work. As I write this, I’m reminded of the many times in my career when I found myself not knowing how to solve a particular challenge. Invariably, because I generally have a very clear and reasonably well-documented vision for where I want my business to go and am willing to put in the energy to see things through, the answer appears. I’m the luckiest man alive.

“Luck is what happens when planning meets opportunity.”
— Seneca

So, what are your goals for 2016? Here are some questions worth pondering:

• Why do we do what we do?
• How will we measure our success as an enterprise?
• What has gotten in the way of achieving our goals in the past?
• What resources do we have? Do we need?
• Who are our star performers? What qualities do they have?
• What do I need to do to support my team?
• If money were no object, what goals would we set?
• What is my role? How is it going to be different than last year?

I’m told that one of the most frequent reasons why staff members leave a business is that they don’t know where it’s going. This is even truer with the current generation: millennials. Millennials work well with clear instructions and concrete targets. They want to know the “what.” But they also want to take responsibility for how they achieve their goals; thus, the “why” is equally critical. When people understand the “why” behind the goals, they can make the daily decisions necessary to deliver them.

Our industry is changing at warp speed. Disruptive technologies are being introduced that will impact you and your business in profound ways. Successful optometry enterprises are those that both recognize that the world is changing around them, but also have a crystal clear, well-defined vision of who they are and where they’re going. Successful optometry enterprises don’t cower to competition; they are the competition.

So, what’s your plan?

Join us at our next event:

Exiting Vision Plans Conference

Discover the secrets to eliminating or reducing your reliance on vision plans.