I’ve been reading a ton of “2012 predictions.” Many are insightful. Most are based on historical statistics and projections, which the Black Swan Theory tells us is an uneducated approach. And while they have value, I’m not going to write another one. I feel it’s more universally constructive to discuss our approach to the industry and our respective organizations in order to become that much more effective in ensuring long-term success.
From my perspective, here are the approaches you (and I) should set goals and objectives for in 2012:
Approach to Personal Advancement
Your organization did not hire you to be a robot. If they did, quit and go elsewhere. They hired you because you have certain skills, intuition, experiences and relationships. These characteristics are the foundation of something that should greatly increase the value of the organization over time. However, if your qualifications stay static, the candidate they interview next year will surely replace you. Don’t let it happen.
In defining your 2012 approach to personal advancement, ask yourself:
- What are three areas within my field of expertise that I would like to refine/advance?
- How will I educate myself? Who will I learn from and how? Will I have an in-person mentorship? Follow him or her on Twitter?
- What do I consider myself an expert in already? How can I share it in a way that will advance others within and outside of my organization?
Approach to Leadership
At the core of every industry and organization, there are leaders. Some have titles that deem them leaders. Others show it through their approach to a project. And still others are just looking for the opportunity to step up.
Consider your organization and ask the following:
- How are we fostering leaders internally? If our senior leaders all quit tomorrow, who would step up?
- How could we better incorporate different leadership styles to support our organization’s diverse talent pool?
- How can I personally serve our organization better?
Based on these answers, create your approach to leadership for 2012.
Approach to Innovation
As Scott Stratten has probably said a million times, we don’t do “what’s now” well, so why are we trying to look for the next thing? Yes, if your organization can create the next great augmented reality, m-commerce, social media-infused FAB-type geolocation system in six months, you’ll be innovative and could grow to be very rich. But innovation can also be much simpler.
In creating your 2012 approach to innovation, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are three issues or items that created barriers to success for our organization in 2011? How can we innovate to make those obsolete in 2012?
- What are our current offerings and how are those offerings falling short of what is needed to be successful? How can we fill that gap?
- If someone in our organization comes up with a way to innovate, what systems are currently in place to assist them in making that a reality? How can we advance and promote those employees in the new year?
Remember, innovation doesn’t happen when you command someone to “innovate!” Your approach needs to center around fostering an environment that encourages innovation. If you build the right environment, innovation will come.
Approach to ROI
If I was going to reflect on one universal discussion from 2011, it’s “return on investment.” With the now mainstream access to analytics and current economic strains, the emphasis on ROI has been frighteningly strong. Don’t allow yourself to grow so frustrated that your only response is, “What is the value of your mother?” Entering 2012, remain objective and evaluate your approach.
- How will we, as an organization, articulate the value of our efforts? Is it based in quantitative data only? Anecdotal? Is it a layered approach?
- What metrics and tools will equip us to explain the value of our effort (i.e. campaign, website, social media presence, etc.)? Of those, which ones do we lack access to and why?
- How we will define success in meeting 2012 objectives?
Approach to Collaboration
If we could succeed independent of anyone else, we should all be self-sustained billionaires and our individual entities would turn away 95% of our prospects. Especially within the marketing industry, collaboration has become a formal buzzword: “Our organization is collaborative.” But how many of us are truly working to help others succeed? What value will that add to our organization? And what value is that adding to me personally?
Collaboration, properly understood and organized, is a critical component to advancement. Ask yourself the following as you prepare to outline your approach to collaboration in 2012:
- What skill sets does your organization not currently possess? What kind of obstacles does that present?
- How do I best collaborate with others and in what capacity can I best serve a team?
- In our organization, who currently works independently? What additional perspectives could intelligently inform his or her work?
May 2012 bring continued success, innovation and refinement to you, your organization and the marketing industry.
If you have additional approach evaluation questions for everyone to consider, please add them as a comment below!