This time of year, I like to look back and measure accomplishments for the year, celebrate my successes and plan what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. Sometimes it may seem like you have accomplished a number of things only to realize that you have not really made any progress. Success isn¡¦t always the result of accomplishments but rather it is movement toward your objective. The only way to determine whether or not you are progressing is by having an established starting point from which to measure your progress.

Over the course of my career, I have come to understand that there are four phases of business. Virtually every company I visit or read about is in one of these phases. The phases generally follow a pattern, but they may be interrupted and they frequently repeat themselves.
Phase I is ¡§building momentum.¡¨ This is frequently a long, slow process that requires infusions of capital. The ¡§building momentum¡¨ phase includes developing the product or service and finding ways to positively expose the product or service in an effort to solve a problem and also to generate revenue. This stage precedes increasing revenue and profitability.
Phase II is ¡§positive momentum.¡¨ This phase is characterized by positive growth in customers and revenue. Improving profitability may or may not result in this phase depending upon management¡¦s understanding of the business.
Phase III is ¡§coasting.¡¨ This phase is characterized by doing the same thing you have been doing and not changing or rocking the boat. In the early stages, customers and revenue may be increasing while in the later stages they are flat to declining.
Phase IV is ¡§the death spiral.¡¨ Organizations in the ¡§death spiral¡¨ are moving to cut prices to maintain market share. They are forced to reduce costs in an effort to maintain profitability. Most frequently the cost reductions hurt quality or service and virtually eliminate the possibility of reinvesting in the company thereby causing the move down the spiral to accelerate. This can also be referred to as negative momentum.
Recently I heard famed speaker Nido Qubein describe to an audience something very close to my own thinking when he said, ¡§Teaching someone how to do something is training and telling them why is education.¡¨ ¡§How¡¨ without the ¡§Why¡¨ is the kiss of death for any endeavor. Companies in Phase III or Phase IV usually are working in a ¡§how¡¨ mode. Virtually all companies in positive momentum are working in a ¡§Why¡¨ mode.

Most organizations I know are either trying to build momentum or achieve positive momentum. Without a measurement tool, it can sometimes be a real challenge to determine whether or not accomplishments are in fact moving the organization towards positive momentum.

As you think about the coming year you might want to take advantage of the free assessment I have on my website to determine in which of the four phases your organization is operating. Click here to take advantage of our free assessment or type into your browser. You are welcome to take the assessment again at any time to measure your progress. You can even have multiple people in your organization take the assessment and upon request I will aggregate the results and send them to you in a composite form for your review.

May 2008 be your best year ever and may your organization make real progress towards achieving or maintaining positive momentum.

Author's Bio: 

„Z Copyright Bob Cannon/The Cannon Advantage, 2007. All rights reserved.

Bob Cannon turns managers into leaders who enhance performance and profitability in their organizations. Check out other interesting articles available in the Taking Aim newsletter available at . Bob can be reached at (216) 408-9495 or mailto:

This article courtesy of You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.