In creating a strategic plan, you will need to utilize two crucial tools.
1. Think far and wide.
2. Think bold.
Have you ever asked yourself where you want to be in five or 10 years?
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey uses the metaphor of a wide-lens camera. In order to capture the whole picture and see things from a far distance, you need to use the right lens. This exact concept should be applied when thinking about the future of your organization.
Think big and think bold, or as Jim Collins puts it, think "big, hairy, audacious goals" (BHAG).
Of course, it’s scary, and maybe a bit unrealistic.
But if you shoot for the stars, you'll land on the moon.
Let me share with you an exercise I did with a client we shall call Brian.
Brian founded and ran a very successful financial services business. His team excelled in understanding the intricate details of each transaction and how to maximize savings for the customer, which translated into significant profits for Brian’s firm.
I was asked to analyze the current business model and the leadership team.
The founder was contemplating his exit and wanted to have a sound five- to 10-year plan in place with a great team to execute it.
In our many off-sites, we brainstormed on big and small issues, but in particular, we asked how much the leadership team believed in the current business model and if this was the future of the business. After some hotly debated meetings, it turned out most of the leadership team did not believe in the current model as a long-term strategy.
When I asked them, then, to think of a strategy for the next five to 10 years, they couldn't come up with something that everyone would buy into.
So I asked them to think of the most admired company in their field that had created a better model and that they would be comfortable emulating. This struck a strong chord.
Though there was opposition on how to execute the plan, everyone agreed that the new model was far superior to the current model. The team operated in stealth mode until such a time that they were ready to fully publicize the new model.
Fast forward, and the founder was able to exit as planned (at a high multiple). According to the current CEO, it was primarily because they had this great new strategy in place and ready to roll.
It’s very difficult, especially for founders, to do what many call “eating your breakfast before someone else does," meaning reinventing the services or products that the company is reliant on for a newer, better model. But as the adage goes “no risk, no reward."
Do you remember telex machines? Or typewriters? How about famous companies such as Kodak, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), etc.? They all made the same mistake of not thinking around the bend and were afraid to be ahead of the curve.
Wayne Gretzky (of Hockey fame), when asked about his secret to success, said that it was not that he skated quicker or hit the puck harder.
He just figured out where the puck was going next and got there first.
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Jacob M. Engel
Author and CEO of The Prosperous Leader. Creator of the Prosperous Courses. Where leaders learn to lead!