Businesswoman Stands Address Meeting Around Board

Doing the Right Thing Vs. Doing Things Right

If I have one rule for myself it’s do the right thing, regardless of the outcome. It would also be not to hurt anyone on purpose, but that’s a cause for another post. In this post, I want to talk about the get shit done culture. The culture that is so go-go-go that people hardly get a chance to actually look up and see if their work is actually making some sort of impact. It’s also the case where we look only at the short-term outcome and being pleased at the results, disregarding it’s long-term impact.

Doing Things Right

We do it all the time. You remember that project that you had very little time to do. You crank out all the work. I do mean all the work, with no time to analyze what you’re doing. You meet the deadline, but you have no clue what you actually did. You just did work. It’s seen as a success. Why? Because you made the deadline.

In my field of marketing. It’s very easy to get trapped in this way of working. We feel like we’re tasked with doing “marketing.” So that’s what we do, we have a tasklist of everything we do that involves marketing. This includes PR publications, Facebook posts, search campaigns, blog posts, daily tweets, events we can go to, etc. We then look at vanity metrics like website traffic for a measure of success. It’s no fault of the marketing department. Every department is looking at ways to be more efficient. Efficiency is one hell of a drug.

Doing the Right Thing

The missing component to this and other departments who just produce “work.” is the lack of a goal that everyone is striving towards. People want to know that they are contributing to an overarching goal once they get hired. Very few businesses set clear objectives on what the company goals are. So instead of reaching toward a goal, the manager sets objectives on a case by case basis. Everyone is working in a boat with no anchor so the work just seems to drift on.

Still, managers tell their colleagues what to do without knowing whether anyone actually cares about what is needed to be done. They direct staff in doing work without knowing the purpose for the work, or knowing what the end result will be.

Doing the right thing is far more important than doing things right. You can have the best event planning, the best accounting system, the best IT department, and still not be doing the right thing. The question is, how do you do the right thing? It depends on the company. It goes back to having a goal that everyone tries to achieve.

When I talk about a goal, I’m not talking about an arbitrary number that someone forecasted. I’m not talking about a sales goal, or any goal that comes from a vanity metric. I’m talking a purpose. If the company doesn’t have a mission, what is the what is the purpose of the work?

A mission statement isn’t something to check a box with, but should be the bedrock of everything everyone in the company does. Now that content has purpose. That advertising campaign has purpose. That sales meeting as purpose. Our metrics that we report on should coincide with the impact we intend to make. When it comes to working, everyone should have an answer to “Why am I doing this?” If not, they are simply doing things right, but not doing the right thing.