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The Only Robot Prediction That Matters for 2017

Alex Owen-Hill
by Alex Owen-Hill.
Posted on Dec 20, 2016 7:00 AM. 5 min read time

It's that time of year again. Everyone starts making predictions about robotics in 2017. But there's only one prediction which really matters — the one you make about your own business goals for robotics. We show how to set robotics goals for 2017 which are actually achievable.


All magazines and blogs like to make predictions around this time of year. What will be the robotic trends of 2017? What will be the failures and unexpected successes? Here at Robotiq, we're no different. Emmet Cole will undoubtedly check-in to see how many of his 2016 predictions came true, and make a few new ones for 2017.

I like making predictions too but, as we all know, predictions are usually unreliable. There are just too many factors to make them accurately — economic factors, political factors, technological factors, the list goes on.

There is only one robotics prediction which you can make with complete certainly: the one which aligns with your business goals for the next year.


Why Now Is the Best Time to Set Robotics Goals

This is the perfect time of year to set your goals for 2017. It's time to take stock of your robotic successes from 2016 and make new plans for 2017.

Goals are predictions which we make about our future. They might not happen — which is why they are predictions — but we have the power to implement them. For this reason, they are the only predictions that we can make with certainty. Everything else is just guesswork.

Don't put it off until later. Make your robotics goals for 2017 right now.

Most of us have fallen into the trap — at least once in our career — of saying "I will set my goals for the year when things die down later in January." But, then January quickly turns to February and we still haven't updated our business strategy. February quickly turns to June and we think "I will update my plan after summer." Suddenly, December strikes again and we have just muddled through the year without ever having implemented a clear robotics strategy.

Not this time. Make a commitment right now that you will start 2017 with a clear robotics strategy.


5 Steps for Achievable Robotics Goals for 2017

You may have heard the quote from Bill Gates, which I will paraphrase as "We overestimate what we can achieve in the short term and underestimate what we can achieve in the long term."

This is important to keep in mind when you are setting robotics goals. Perhaps you can only implement one new robotic application in the next three months. But, by the end of the year you could have a whole in-house team of robotics experts.



1. Set Your Yearly Vision for Robotics

The first step is to decide your yearly vision for robotics within your business. In terms of goal setting, one year is quite a long time — even though it doesn't feel it. Your vision will guide your goals throughout the year.

Make your vision big, specific and flexible.

The specifics will depend a lot on you. For example, you might say "We will increase our throughput with robotic machine tending to attract 4 new customers" or you might say "to gain 400 new customers." It depends on your business.

You could also go for a knowledge-based vision, for example: "We will reduce our reliance on outsourced integrators and reduce the amount spent on them by 70%."

Notice how these example goals are flexible. If you attract 300 new customers instead of 400, the goal hasn't failed it has just not been as successful as the vision.


2. Schedule a Quarterly Goal Setting Session

There are many different theories about goal setting. Some of them focus too much on defining many rigid, "intermediate goals" on the path to the yearly goal. This has two disadvantages: it doesn't allow for the natural changeability of plans, and it sets us up to feel like a failure when we don't reach all of the intermediate goals.

Recently, a few different theorists (including Michael Hyatt, Todd Herman and Tom Mendoza) have proposed a more effective approach: set goals for no longer than 90 days. This seems to be the maximum time within which we can efficiently achieve a goal. Goals set for longer than this tend to get brushed aside by more pressing deadlines.

Schedule a quarterly "goal setting" meeting with yourself and/or your team and add it to your calendar. For now, you should only focus on your goals for the next three months. If something needs to be achieved in, say, six months decide if you can set one intermediate goal for this quarter. If so, do it; if not, come back and revisit the goal at the start of the next quarter.


3. Set Robotics Goals for the Next Three Months

What goals can you start right now to move closer to your vision?

For example, imagine your yearly vision is "To use robots to reduce the manufacturing cycle time by 30%" and you currently have no robots. A reasonable three month goal could be: "Purchase a robot and apply it to one application in the business."


4. Decide Your Mini-Projects

Now, you need to select some mini-projects which you will use to achieve that goal. Focus on processes, strategies and projects, not intermediate goals. Traditional goal-setting approaches put a lot of focus on what you want to achieve, but not how you will achieve it.

For each goal, decide on a few self-contained projects which will take you closer to the goal.

Using the same example as before, you might decide to tackle a different project each month:

  • In the first month, you could review the market for collaborative robot options.
  • In the second month, you could analyze and select a suitable process within the business.
  • In the third month, you could integrate the robot into your chosen process.

An alternative way to tackle this example could be to do the first two projects concurrently, with different team members taking charge of each project.

Decide on metrics which you will use to measure the progress of each project every couple of weeks.


5. Set Specific Actions and Assign to Team Members

Finally, plan the specific actions required to complete each mini-project. It's more effective to plan these upfront, rather than waiting until they arise.

Remember to stay flexible. More actions will probably become apparent once you begin the mini-projects.

Assign each action to a team member and set a date when you will review the progress.


It's a lot easier to see progress happening with this approach to goal-setting. Even if one of your goals falls apart completely, you will meet again in three months and can readjust the goal.

Good luck with your robotics goals for 2017! In fact, we want you to share your robotics wish list for 2017

robotics wish list

How do you currently set goals in your business? What methods do you use to plan your robotics strategy each year? What progress have you made in 2016 with robotics? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or the DoF professional robotics community.

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Alex Owen-Hill
Written by Alex Owen-Hill
Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.
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