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Answer 3 Questions to Plan for Success

by on May 6, 2015

Planning for SuccessWhen asked, “What do you want?” most people will tell you what they don’t want.

Or they tell you what they think they can have starting from what they have and working forward rather than starting where they want to be and working backward.

This is very limiting.  There is very little inspiration in this approach.  Even achieving goals derived in this manner will not result in getting what you want but rather getting what you think you can have.  Where is the satisfaction in that?

CEOs are no different when they’re planning their company’s vision.  They tell me they don’t want to sell the company for less than $XXX million but they don’t tell me what they will sell it for. They tell me they want to grow faster than they have been but not how fast they want to grow.  Or they tell me they have this solution they’ve developed, they want to productize it and need to start planning the tactical steps but they don’t know what they want it to be working toward.

Because there isn’t a clear vision to be working toward, because there isn’t a clearly identified ‘want”, there isn’t a plan to get there.  It’s just do more of what we’ve been doing and hope for the best because that’s all we can do.

If there is a plan it’s often too complicated.  Typically the plan ends up trying to build the whole thing at once, whatever it is.

And what happens almost every time, even if they’ve identified what they want and have a clear plan to get there?  They forget it.  They get caught up in the day to day, lose clarity.  They don’t keep the want, the vision, the plan, front and center.

Most people’s goals are to “hit their quarterly targets”, to get by, to survive, to stay employed.  In short, they’re caught up in the trap of making a living rather than building a company.

Most people, and most companies, have impotent goals!

We must find a goal big enough and grand enough to challenge everyone in the company to push beyond their limiting beliefs to realize how great the company can be.

3 Questions

There are 3 questions that need to be answered when working through the issues around to create a project plan that leads to what you want.

1.   What do you want?  The first is to clearly identify what you want, not what you don’t want, without limiting yourself.  Don’t identify what you think you can do.  Aim big!  As stated in Built to Last, by Jim Collins and Jerry Poras, create your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, or BHAG.  Let’s spend a little more time on this because it’s important.

The power of the BHAG is that it gets you out of thinking too small. A great BHAG changes the time frame and simultaneously creates a sense of urgency. It’s a real paradox. So on the one hand, you’re not going to get a BHAG done in three years. You’re not going to get it done in five years. A really good BHAG probably has a minimum length of about a decade, and many take longer than that. Two decades. Three decades. So time frames extend to where you are no longer managing for the quarter but for the quarter century.

On the other hand, because it’s so big and so audacious and so hairy it increases the sense of urgency. You look at it and say, “Oh my goodness, if we’re going to bring the world into the jet age or transform education or put a computer on every desk, then we have to get to work today with a level of intensity that is unrelenting.” Because the only way you can achieve something that big is an absolutely obsessed, monomaniacal, overwhelming intensity and focus that starts today and goes tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day for 365 days and then for 3,650 days–that’s how you do it.

Also, one of the roles of the BHAG is that if it’s really good and big enough you can’t achieve it if, in the process, you don’t build a great company, a great organization. If you think back to the moon mission, NASA had to really operate at a superb level to achieve that. Henry Ford was trying to democratize the automobile, which required an exceptionally well-run company.  A BHAG helps you build a great company. Because if you don’t have a great company you can’t achieve the BHAG.

2. What’s missing today? The second is to identify what’s missing today.  How is today’s situation different from what you just identified you really want?  Most of the time CEOs only have a fuzzy idea about where they are and where they want to go.  This needs to be clearly identified and articulated.  Only from having a clear picture of where we’re starting from can we create clear and measurable objectives for a plan.

3. What obstacles do you have? The third is to identify the obstacles between where they are now and where they want to be.  From this exercise we create the project plan to get where we really want to go knowing that the steps we take will get us to the desired result.

This exercise creates a plan that works backwards from where we want to go rather than a plan that moves forward from where we are today to where we think we can get to.

All goal setting, getting what you want, must be immediately followed by both the development of a plan, and massive and consistent action toward its fulfillment.

If you want to sell your company for $XXX million and you work this process you’ll create the plan to do that in the time period you desire.  You’ll think creatively.  For example, this may involve buying growth by buying another company. Rather than limiting yourself by waiting until you have the funding or an identified prospect before you take action you’ll now be looking for that prospect and the way to fund it will present itself.  It always does.  I’ll show you.

Close your eyes.  Think of the color RED for 5 seconds.  Picture the color RED in your mind.  When you open your eyes you’ll see so much red it will amaze you.  Why? Because you’re looking for it.  It’s always there you just don’t see it.

The same is true for obtaining what you want.  Once you clearly identify what you want the way to get it will present itself.  Maybe not as fast as seeing red in your room but it will be there.  Keep looking.

Then the issue becomes working the plan and keeping the plan front and center knowing that everything you’re doing is working toward your stated goal or want.  But that’s for another post.


If you’re wondering how you build a company that you can sell for a premium in a few years, contact me to discuss the Valuation Amplification Process.

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