A handful of unexpected turns during February meant some changes to the original plan. I'm back for the last post of the month to discuss the follow up to my thoughts on strategic planning. Next week, I will get back into coding!
As I discussed in January, this year was the first time DAHLIN has held a team-wide Design Technology group strategic planning session. Following our team process, which you can read about here, we had champions for our four major teams: Maintenance, Automation, Education, and Innovation. Their responsibilities since January were developing a path to meet the goals the group set and to refine these goals to ensure they fit in with the Design Technology and the company’s vision.
As champion for the Automation team and a member of two of our other teams, I was able to experience the process both as a champion and a team member.
One of the biggest challenges that I faced was shifting from the mindset of wanting to accomplish everything to being realistic with the time we have in the coming year. You have to be open when first gathering ideas. As you refine those ideas, you need to become increasingly realistic because you are narrowing them down to goals that the group will be held accountable for.
Some key items I learned:
When you have a long to-do list, many people focus on the fun tasks first. For example, if there are 15 template fixes mixed in with two new dynamo scripts, I will always want to focus on the scripts first. I have to intentionally complete the sometimes mundane items to make sure we’re on track. As a champion, it is your responsibility to manage those tasks and ensure the team is working on all the goals.
It is your responsibility to keep the team on track with the goals you have set, however, unexpected circumstances will almost always arise. When some things just can’t get done, it’s okay to prioritize. Additionally, as other information or requirements come up throughout the year, don’t be afraid to adjust your priorities and even your goals to better align.
It is so easy to get caught in the task at hand and only focus on your team’s goals. It is your responsibility to understand how your team's tasks fit into the big picture. Focus on moving your team’s goals forward, but always understand how they fit in with the company’s vision.
Good leaders listen to their team members and respect everyone’s opinions. You are not responsible for having all the answers. You are responsible for asking the right questions and bringing out the best in everyone.
We have organized our Design Technology group in a way that allows many opportunities for leadership and involvement. In addition to having a champion of each team (Maintenance, Automation, Education, and Innovation) we also have a champion for each goal. The champion is responsible for moving that goal forward but anyone can help out with the goal. People can champion multiple goals or they can co-champion goals. I feel that a benefit of this is it allows people to take responsibility for the tasks they are working on. Team members are the driving force for each team and critical in accomplishing the tasks at hand.
Some key items I learned:
A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Champions are there to make sure the team stays on track, but the strength lies in the team. Having an engaged team allows everyone to get things done. As a team member, you have the power to take responsibility for tasks and see them through to completion.
It is much easier to focus on tasks when you are interested in them. Of course, there will always be some dull items on your list, but in general, stay involved in topics you enjoy.
Different knowledge, interests, and backgrounds contribute to the success of a team. A diverse team is a strong team. Bring your knowledge to the team and don’t be afraid to share. Speak up if you disagree with something or have a new perspective to contribute to a topic.
As the year moves forward it will be exciting to see all the teams working towards their goals. We have weekly meetings for the Design Technology group that cover a range of topics and one meeting per month is dedicated to check-ins for each team. The intention of the team-wide strategic planning is to have input from everyone in the process and I feel that we accomplished that this year. It is exciting to see the team move forward with our goals and better the resources and support for our firm.