CAD Management: A CAD Manager’s Mindset, Part 3

Last month we began to look at some of the mindsets that a CAD Manager should have. They included a mind set on pondering, analyzing, having a holistic view of things, understanding others, and teamwork. This month we continue with two more mindset perspectives.

A mindset is akin to a perspective or "world view." It frames how you will react to things and how you will process information. Your mindset kicks into gear before you even realize it. Many times your initial thoughts have created a point of view that you stand upon when thinking things through. We all do this. It is not a bad thing, unless you hold your ground no matter what new facts are brought into the process.

A mind set on action
CAD managers have to act. If you sit around waiting for things to happen and only respond, then your firm will not gain the benefits of your actions. You need to be proactive, not reactive. So having a mind set on action would mean that you always think in terms of actionable decisions.

Here is a scenario. Someone comes to you and wants to know find out which border their project needs. You do a little research and find that the border they need does not exist. The person who has the information you need to create that border is not in the office. What do you do? Postpone the process until that person returns? What if he or she is on vacation or out sick? Is there someone else who can provide it? Can I call the client to get it? Can I get it off a past project? What would you do? Just push it off and wait?

A mind set on action would not just sit around. It will find a way to get the information or will work hard until someone else says that you have to wait for someone to return. If you are busy, then pass it on to someone else that who has a mind set on action. The whole point of this is to always move the issue forward, rather than let it stand idle. Each time you take up a subject or work on an issue, move it forward.

Another way that this would work itself out is that you would always add value, data, information, or milestones every time you touch anything. If you make a phone call and don't connect with the person, leave a message about the subject so that the person knows what he or she needs to do. Don't just say "Please call me back." Say "Please call me back about the new project" or better yet, "Please call me back about the new project. I need to know which border to use. We can’t move forward until we decide this issue. I need to by 5 pm." Don't waste the voice mail with no information. By moving the conversation forward, you make it easier for the person to respond. Many times, I have wished someone would leave more information on a voice mail message and I admit that I have violated this concept myself.

In meetings, always verify that decisions "actionable." This means that every decision will have a well-defined action associated with it. This includes a name for who is responsible. Most people are familiar with attaching a name to the next step of a decision. "Action: Jill is going to follow up on the creation of a new border" is typical of most meeting minutes. But what about verifying that Jill knows what to do next? Review the meeting action items and make sure that each person tells you what they are going to actually do to make that action item move toward completion.

A mind set on results
Similar but slightly different is the mind set on results. This kind of attitude gets things done. This may be the most valuable mindset to have. Without it you may be doomed to constantly working, but not accomplishing as much as you could.

This mindset will make you lean toward the end results of your actions. The aforementioned "action" mindset makes you move forward while the "results" mindset will make you finish. Some people are content to just be moving forward, but have no end game planned. Activity does not guarantee results. Results are often confused with completion. Getting something done does not guarantee results. It may complete a task but it does not ensure impact.

Results are measurable. Completion can be measured by only one thing. Is it done? YES. There, one measurement. Results, on the other hand, have many measurable components.

Let's take one measurement: Outcome versus Output. Many people measure things based on output and that will work for factories or manufacturing, but not for other areas. Measuring a design project's success based on output from the plotter would make a 300-page submittal more successful than a 200-page submittal. Measuring it based on outcome would expand the measurement greatly.

Here is another: Quantity versus Quality. Again, each has its place, but seeking one over the other definitely changes the results that you will achieve. Moving too far toward one will compromise the other. Not measuring may even increase your ability to achieve the other.

You get the idea—results matter and will set you up for success. But you have to keep results in mind or your actions will be reduced to a set of steps that, when completed, make you think you have done what you set out to do.

So if you have a mind set on results, think about how these results are measured. What results are you looking for? How do you measure them? If you don't think about results much and focus instead about completing tasks then ask yourself some questions. When I am done, what have I accomplished? What impact has it had on my firm, my project, my office?

By keeping a focus on results you almost ensure that you will make a broader impact.

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