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Tag: progress

Waiting, Done Different

There’s a value to waiting. Going in unprepared is a recipe for disaster, no matter the field. As explained in a previous post, planning ahead of time can reap great rewards, even if your task is not to guide a spacecraft into orbit around another planet.

Of course, you can wait too long. When your competition passes you by, internal goals are foregone for “perfecting”, and the stagnation of perpetual planning sets in for the long haul.

Like everything else we discuss, where is your happy medium? Great question.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite examples: Apple.

As before, it doesn’t matter your opinion on their services, devices, or practices. We can all agree they are masters at generating buzz, interest, and profits.

And boy do they wait…and wait.

Nearly half a decade ago, phones running Android began appearing with growing screens. I don’t mean they grew as you used them (though that would be awesome…screen size based on usage patterns…patent it!), rather, they were larger than the standard 3.5” of the iPhone. Manufacturers tried it as an experiment, and customers responded. In a continual back-and-forth, screen size increased, customers adopted it, then the sizes were raised once again. Fast-forward to today, and the largest phones are, for argument’s sake, small tablets. Until the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPhone gained only a small vertical increase to 4”. Why?

Well, one reason is that Apple does a revamp of the phone body every 2 years, but also they wanted to be certain the transition was real, and not just a short-term trend. Now they have two options, one in the new “mid-size” range at 4.7” and another in the “gargantuan” slate of 5.5”. Android manufacturers should be worried.

“Yeah, but that was a given, and they were just stubborn before!” You might be right, but they followed public adoption preferences quite closely, and only transitioned when a majority of users would be satisfied.

Let’s look at something less apparent. Consider it your internal planning analogue.

Ever try to read your phone’s screen in the sun while wearing polarized glasses? It’s a pain. The screen dims, loses color, goes all weird…do you make the, “look over your glasses nose scrunch”? I do.

Apple engineers noticed this as well, and set to improve it. They put the time into redesigning a panel in the screen (called a polarizer) to minimize that issue. This improvement alone tells me the device was not rushed through development.

We are in the midst of your annual planning sessions. What are you aiming to achieve for the next year? Do you have checks on progress every few weeks? Even better, do you have small victories you can check off on a regular basis? Are your goals achievable, and do all aspects of your CU have buy-in?

What’s your “polarized glasses make the screen crappy” weakness that you are correcting this year?

Progress with Tedium

Too often, we see plans made, strategies devised, and duties assigned, yet nothing ensues. This isn’t specific to the credit union industry. In fact, you can find such breakdown of motivations in all areas of work and life. “I’ll clean out the garage this weekend.” Did you? “Our entire team is following a year-long plan to improve sales.” How does that look by month 7?

Expedition 41 (Soyuz 40) recently arrived at the International Space Station. Carrying 3 space-faring pioneers (well, technically, two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut), the rocket launched from the Baikanur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan early in the morning local time, and docked with the station after about 20 hours of low-Earth orbit travel.

Never mind how crazy-cool it is that we regularly send people into space, where they meet up with others who have been living up there for months. Let’s ignore the awesomeness of that for a moment. Really, it is amazing…I mean, think about it…space…as in, not Earth. And they live up there!

Talk about distractions. Ok, back on topic. Space. Orbit.

Imagine the planning that goes towards flying into space and parking on a target moving at thousands of miles per hour. Now triple what you’ve pictured. Probably more. Yet, tasks are accomplished on time while ensuring maximum safety for all occupants.

Bet your annual strategic plan pales in comparison.

How do they meet specific task markers within time constraints (and while not flying themselves into the ocean)? They progress with tedium.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but since we’re all friends here; I had never watched a live launch or docking of a Soyuz mission to the ISS. Sure, I’ve seen the Space Shuttle in person and watched launches of those workhorses. Yet for Soyuz rockets, only the replays and highlights of many, the triumphant hand-shakes over a shiny blue ball, floating in a manner to make us all so, so jealous, and interviews with family and friends on the ground.

Live is a different animal. Feeling like The Doctor without his TARDIS, you experience the passage of time in real-time. Unlike all the great sci-fi stories, orbital operations happen over a matter of hours, not seconds. Prior to launch, task after essential check was reviewed, continuing until about T-2 seconds, at which point, viewers stopped hearing those discussions. Then, once they were in orbit, thus began the tedious job of ensuring a safe opening of the Soyuz into the ISS. Can’t have a leaky seal pouring valuable air into the near-vacuum of low-Earth orbit!

I stayed awake until task 17.8…and there was still another hour of checks before the hatches were opened. Do you have the patience to progress in such tedium?

If you have a strategy that cannot falter, treat it like a space mission. Sure, it may lack the “sexy” rapid flow as you’re moving through, but it happens. When you expect. With the results you demand.

Because, just like slipping past a planet into outer space, missing your loan goals again is not an option.

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