The holidays, for me, are a time to reflect on the past year’s events, good and bad, the growth and development of my company, the progress of my two boys toward manhood, and my personal success or failure towards my goals. Although I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions, I also think that this reflection provides a chance to set goals for the next year. Even though I tend to work through most holidays, I think taking some time away from the non-stop drumbeat of work is essential to being able to reflect upon and improve one’s game (Covey’s Sharpening the Saw).
For my company, we hold an annual offsite with our Board of Advisers and go through the previous year’s metrics as well as set the focus for the upcoming year. This focus helps us to determine our budget and provide direction to our managers and employees as to where the company is going and how they can help us to get there.
On a corporate basis, in 2012 my company has continued to grow, despite the overall downward trend in defense spending. One reason for this is the company’s focus on Command and Control systems and Cybersecurity. This was not by chance, this was a trend that we recognized 6-7 years ago and on which we decided to centralize our efforts. We focused our recruiting, internal training, and business development efforts in this area, effectively ‘making our own luck’ by laying the ground work for success. (There is a great book that discusses the time worn principles of making one’s own luck called, apropriately enough, “Good Luck: Creating the Conditions for Success in Life and Business.” It’s a fun 20 minute read.)
The company has faced challenges during this time as well. We outgrew our original management personnel, and with some drama and growing pains we managed to change the managers that were effective in a 20 person company for those to help us grow to a 500 person company. With the change came new opportunities for internal and external training and initiatives that would have been impossible with the old management team, from both lack of interest and capability.
For 2013 we’re looking forward to continuing to improve our management team, creating internal training programs based upon the principles and tenets that I’ve outlined in previous blogs about training your people, expanding our offerings into new verticals and customers, improving our IT systems, and trying to continually improve our work quality to our customers.
A training program is key in any service organization if a company wants to differentiate itself from staffing companies or resume shops. Our training program for DoD Program managers is being designed to not just emphasize the specific technical skills involved with managing a DoD program, but the “softer” aspects of leadership, communication, and customer service. We developed this program in recognition of the need for “new blood” in an aging workforce as well as a lack of formal training in our industry in anything outside of the largest companies.
The expansion into new customer bases is important for any business. A diverse customer base not only provides increased revenues and mitigates the risk of customer concentration, the lessons learned from new customers can be applied to other customer programs. We are hiring new business development people and leveraging the connections of our existing workforce to move into new market areas. We are also looking at commercial applications for the work that we do for our government customers, particularly in the area of Cybersecurity.
The upgrading of our IT systems is oriented around our strategic goals in terms of managing and motivating our work force, dealing with the regulatory requirements as efficiently as possible, and leveraging the lessons learned from our current and past work to help new customers solve their problems.
On a personal basis, I’m hoping that 2013 will allow me to enjoy some of the new people in my life that I’ve been fortunate enough to have join me in the journey, wrap up some previous connections to people with whom I would prefer not to associate, and watch my children grow and learn their own lessons as they determine who they will be in this life.
Thank you for reading my blog in 2012, I hope that it was at least somewhat interesting and maybe even prompted you to reflect on your own journey and will continue to be so and do so in 2013. Good luck to everyone on your adventures in the New Year!
As a wise young person once told me: “Relax, your journey has taken you exactly where you are supposed to be.”