On behalf of all my colleagues at ARV Group, I'd like to wish you a healthy, happy and successful 2017. For many of us, a year dedicated once again to improvement, change and progress. If only because we come back, each year anew, to the old, traditional New Year's resolutions. And that goes for businesses too! Are you truly going to achieve your ambitions and reach the goals you've set for yourself? Good resolutions alone, of course, aren't enough. But if you approach it in the right way, you just might accomplish even more than you thought possible.
Efficiency improvements expressed as percentage points? Or cost reductions expressed as a sum in euros? What does that really say? And what does it actually say to those who are charged by their superiors with making good on the ambitions that are handed down to them? If you want to work effectively and bring about successful change, you can't remain stuck at the level of abstract targets. Because when you do, it only results in an impasse, a dead-end street where people may sense the urgency behind that ambition, but don't see what it means. A situation in which people don't know what they are expected to do and so go on clinging to the same old standard processes and habits, without a single step taken towards improvement. Fortunately, though, it doesn't have to be that way.
Shared ambition as motivator
Mobilizing people is what it's all about. Why are we establishing new goals within the organization? What makes us want and need to change and improve? And what paths are we going to follow in order to get there? It's crucial to provide people with answers to those very important questions. and if you give those same people the time and space to take a step back from the "daily grind", great things will suddenly happen. Then the energy starts to flow and the conviction grows that the objectives are within arm's reach. What's more, a unique driving force towards change and progress arises: shared ambition. Then the moment has come to have your teams put their heads together. To let them share their practical experiences, creativity and common sense. Before long, practicable ideas will come to the surface, about where and how things could go faster, better, cleaner, more economically and efficiently. That's a moment I always relish. Each time anew. And in fact it's only logical; your people, after all, are the ones who know most about their own working situations.
A surprising sum total
And the phase that follow is one I find every bit as fantastic. The phase in which we lay out all those ideas for improvement on the table and structure them. Ideas about how to cut costs even further, about how to deal more economically with energy and materials, ideas about working together more intelligently, and so on. this results in concrete steps towards improvement, which we then set out in the form of a clear plan. So that every department, every team and every individual knows exactly how and where he or she can make a practical contribution to achieving the ultimate, shared goal. Step by step. And then comes the most amazing discovery of all. Because once we've added it all up, the sum total of all those improvement usually turns out to be much greater than the original objective!
The best motivation
Working on the basis of a clear objective, sincere commitment, shared ambitions and concrete steps towards improvement, people and organizations are capable of achieving even more than they had thought possible. That, in my view, is the best motivation for remaining focused on improvement. In that way, we can all welcome each new year with confidence in our ability to carry out those good resolutions!
Roelant van Herwaarden | Managing Partner ARV Group