Making an impact

April 18, 2012 (originally posted on April 18, 2012) | Hamilton, Ontario
Contributed by Jim Matthews, '96

Part 2 of a series

In a previous article, I stressed the importance of knowing what you want in your career and staying in the game, even when the going gets tough. These are fundamental principles, but close behind is the need to make a meaningful impact on the business you are serving.

With all the various systems, tools, sophisticated processes and rally cries for improvement to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), it is ironic how easy it is to lose the connection with what matters. I often say to my leadership team, if it doesn’t make a measurable impact on customer satisfaction, the bottom line or morale, then don’t do it. This means not only bringing innovative solutions and solid analysis to the table but also being able to articulate with confidence exactly how a project will benefit the business, how you’ll measure success and who will be accountable to delivering those results. Ideally this will be YOU and be wary if the answer is a committee.

When you focus on measurable outcomes it keeps the project real, your confidence and platform to sell the project or initiative goes up significantly and your ability to lock in the ever important executive support will also increase. There is nothing that gets a CEO’s pulse to quicken like a spirited person or team who has a solid plan to improve the customer experience or profits, in large part, because he or she will see so many plans that don’t even consider them.

Commit to making tangible positive impacts to the contribution margin, at least three times the costs that you and your teams represent to the business. On large projects, pitch your plan with iterations, milestones and proof points that allow you to prove the validity of your proposal and make full approval contingent on it. These are all indicators to the executive team that you get it and are allocating company resources as if they were your own. It is also extremely satisfying to know you made a measurable, meaningful impact to the business. People like that are always in demand.

So don’t play it safe, put yourself on the line and start making an impact to the business you are serving.

Jim Matthews, B.Com ’91, MBA ‘96 is senior director of demand management at Research in Motion (RIM). Jim builds on many years of senior customer, operational and supply chain responsibility, primarily in high tech (IBM, Celestica, RIM). He brings a passion for the customer and pragmatism to complex business solutions. He is a graduate of McMaster University and a member of various volunteer boards. This is the second article Jim has written in a series. Click here to view the first article.

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