I have extensively applied 'Quality Management' related principles & tools in corporate sector for several years. I contributed in developing the company's vision, mission, values and objectives as well as systematically establishing & documenting the company's policies and processes in line with the customers' requirements. Besides, the 'Quality Focused' company always had structured models for performance appraisals and productivity measurement. Resultantly, I have witnessed that the company always moved forward and flourished through thick & thin.
I have also worked for few other companies who didn't have the 'Quality' focus. They were mostly managing their affairs on day-to-day basis resulting mostly in fire-fighting. There was no strategic thinking at the leadership level. Resultantly, they always did mediocre business or even at times ran into serious survival problems.
With this practical insight, I always wondered that if these 'Quality' concepts & tools can work for corporate organizations to their success, can these also be applied on personal life. The answer theoretically is 'Yes', but practically it may require some adaptation.
Our personal life has different dynamics than the corporate world. However, all corporate tools more or less may work with the same results if applied correctly.
I have tried to adapt some of the standard corporate tools into 'Four-Levels-Approach' which can be applied on our personal lives.
1 - SWOT Analysis - Know Thyself First!
The first important thing for any corporate organization is to know about its own strengths & weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats i.e. SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Same is required to be applied on our personal level to know where our best talents & strengths exist in order to plan further how to build upon them and excel in them.
Some psychological models are helpful in this regard. My favorite one is MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) which cluster the human beings into 16 personality types. This model helps to highlight your dominant strengths & weaknesses in a systematic way.
The SWOT analysis will provide the clarity about our self at our personal level. E.g. if you happen to be 'Reserved & Introverted', it is going to be very difficult to excel in marketing or public relations job or vice versa.
2 -Brainstorming - Finding the Right Fit!
Enlightened corporate organizations make good use of 'Brainstorming' tool to find the right ideas, building the right products & services and even making any kind of modifications to the existing rules.
At personal level, after we have done our SWOT analysis, now we need to find the right direction, career or field. We can use brainstorming method and find the right field which we are passionate about.
Few professional areas in life offer less monetization potential than others e.g. doctor will earn more than a painter. It has to be kept in mind while brainstorming that we should not only focus on just 'monetization potential'. If your personality type is not fully suited to enter into medicine, but somehow you still achieve to enter that profession, though you may earn well but you may not get full inner satisfaction in the long run. (There are hundreds of such living examples in this world)
3 -Vision, Mission & Objectives - The Implementation Begins...
Corporate organizations take care to put the Vision, Mission and their yearly objectives in black & white with assigned roles & responsibilities and accordingly employees are appraised periodically to monitor the progress.
Once we have finalized the area of our chosen field for ourselves and the possible right fit, then we have to develop a 'Vision'. It is simply a passion statement which should give us energy to keep on struggling till we achieve what we long for in the long run. We should strongly believe in that 'Vision' and should not lose sight of it ever.
Once we firmly glue the Vision in our mind, we have to move on to develop the Mission statement. This Mission statement helps us move towards our vision and describes why we exist and for what purpose. It can also help to achieve certain goals in a defined period of time probably within one to three years by making it more specific.
The next important stage is developing our yearly objectives to achieve that Mission & Vision. These objectives should be based on SMART principle i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.
Every corporate organization has its own priorities and agendas. Corporate organizations face many challenges, problems, mishaps, accidents, errors and blunders. But they still keep on moving towards that vision undeterred. It may sometimes delay to reach there, but those corporate organizations that are really committed do achieve their goals in the end and are called winners.
Similarly, every individual may also confront many challenges, frustrations and bottlenecks in his or her personal life. Since the corporate organization is teamwork they learn to keep on moving ahead with determination. On the other hand, an individual, in his single capacity, feels overwhelmed with such challenges and frustrations, therefore he or she may end up abandoning the life's vision and mission sooner. That is one of the reasons that we have so many failures and mediocre outcomes in this world at personal level, only few stars.
4 - Continuous Learning / Training - Mentoring
Corporate organizations continuously send their employees on various trainings to help them stay on the track and keep motivated.
We as individuals also need encouragement and motivation as well as sharpening of skills on continuous basis. We may take help from external sources like self-help and inspirational books as well as some selected trainings & certifications. This will certainly help us to stay on the track and move on.
It is also important to bear in mind that source of inspiration or mentoring should be selected carefully at our personal level. Whether they are our relatives, friends, or colleagues, few wrong words, notions or remarks from them can kill our drive & energy very easily.
There have been many great books and inspirational mentors in our world who have really helped people achieve whatever they wanted. It is important to note that those individuals eventually did everything on their own. Those mentors just helped them to ignite their passions and drive them towards their own visions. No mentor can work for us the way we can work for our own visions.
In my concluding part, I would also like to highlight that few people like to apply 'Quality Focused' structured methods at personal level but most don't. I think that is OK too. We have a right to live the way we want. Many a time, I also cherry picked just few 'Quality' principles to apply on my personal life and most of the time I never used the advanced analytical tools. (I usually use the first two tools frequently to determine if I am on the right track, and it does help me to assess it).
To my understanding, the reason behind using or not using such tools lie in understanding our own psychological personality type. E.g. if by nature you are methodical and systematic, you will be drawn to live a life in a systematic way and these concepts will appeal more, but on the other hand, if you are 'right-brained' and by nature more of intuitive and creative type, you may live your life in a loose and open-ended manner.
I guess there is a greater challenge for those who are creative types. However, irrespective of what we are and what we do, it seems largely visible in this world that those who do make an effort to apply these tools meticulously get better results in life.
By Z. Ahmad