Creating lasting change for the New Year

David Scheitlin
NTEA Board Chair
Director of Operations
Holman Manufacturing & Distribution
(Roanoke, Indiana)

This article was published in the January 2024 edition of NTEA News.

Happy New Year to you. The beginning of a new year presents the possibility of tremendous opportunities and improvements to individuals and businesses. What are you doing to prepare yourself for these potential improvements and for taking risks to grow, expand and capitalize on opportunities both personally and professionally?

As you create new goals for the new year, remember that it’s important to have realistic expectations and develop a strategic plan to accomplish them. Two helpful methods come to mind — Kata methodology and Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle. These systematic processes, when used properly and consistently, can create lasting change. We see these methodologies play out regularly with sports teams and successful businesses. Initially, they create a plan for their next opponent and practice regularly to accomplish the goal of defeating their opponent. The test occurs when they compete against an opponent. Once completed, they analyze or check the results — good or bad — compared to what was expected during their practices, and then make adjustments to the game plan for the next opponent (i.e., create a new goal). This is a simplified example, but it relates directly to us in how we can work to create change and opportunities for improvement.

The reason some individuals and businesses fail to accomplish their new goals is because they don’t adapt quickly enough to the changing landscape. They don’t truly analyze what is happening and readjust their plans based on their observations. They make a plan and expect it to work. Poor feedback — and/or lack of engagement with all parties involved in the process — disrupts plans. People are creatures of habit. Changing these habits takes work, practice and continually going through methodologies such as Kata or PDCA. It takes continuous feedback, as well as transparency. Engaging the whole team is essential as you work through the challenges of adopting change and pursuing new goals. Results come from persistence and engaging employees, allowing them to see how their inputs impact outcomes. Just as a quarterback reviews performance after the weekend’s games with coaches, the quarterback must adapt and adjust to continue to improve and learn from mistakes and successes.

If you think about it, there is no data about the future, yet successful companies can adapt quickly and set a new course. Most businesses struggle with following a systematic process for change. It involves engaging employees as much as possible in the process so that they become part of the change. Similarly, as an individual, when you set goals or new year’s resolutions, you must follow a similar process. You have to retrain your brain to develop new habits in order to stick with them.

Many times, people set too large of a goal. If you want to be more active, start small. A goal might be to run 10 miles a week. January’s goal might be walking for 10–15 minutes each day. Set a realistic goal, complete the task, evaluate the results, adjust what’s needed to meet the goal and then act on it. Rinse and repeat… that’s how you can create lasting change. It’s a lot easier than you think, but it takes consistency and repetition.

I wish you all good fortune in 2024, and hope as you set new goals and resolutions, you are able to take a more systematic approach that works for you and your company.