The Fourth Commandment Of Strategic Planning: Set Audacious Goals


There are many acronyms used in goal setting, all for the benefit of having meaningful and everlasting goals. One is to set BHAGs — big hairy audacious goals, as Jim Collins calls them.

Let me explain why those are critical for growth. Why must every organization and every leader be “audacious” in their goals, and why must they be willing to eat their own breakfast — meaning their current way of doing business?

Have you ever thought of this question?

What are the common denominators of the failures of such icons as Blockbuster, Kodak, Polaroid, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), IBM typewriters and others?

In a September 2014 Forbes article, Greg Satell writes, “The irony is that Blockbuster failed because its leadership had built a well-oiled operational machine. It was a very tight network that could execute with extreme efficiency, but poorly suited to let in new information.”

In a January 2012 article, again in Forbes, Avi Dan writes, “Kodak did not fail because it missed the digital age. It actually invented the first digital camera in 1975. However, instead of marketing the new technology, the company held back for fear of hurting its lucrative film business, even after digital products were reshaping the market.

These companies weren’t good at adaptation. The same could be true for the companies listed above and many more failures.

Now look at those that were successful. What are their common denominators?

In a February 2019 Forbes article, Blake Morgan emphasizes the importance of adaptability and innovation, writing that Netflix “understands the need to constantly be innovating. The company has changed drastically from its original form of a DVD service.” She continues, “Looking for new technology and staying ahead of trends helps it define and disrupt the industry.”

What are the lessons learned of these debacles and successes?

First, you need to drive out the fear in your organization. Management consultant W. Edwards Deming said it well: “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.”

Leaders also need to have the vision — and audacity — to see around the corner. Or, as Wayne Gretzky put it, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Be innovative. Be bold. Be audacious. Be a leader, not a follower!

Helen Keller warned, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

I saw a great book written by Vic Williams, and the title says it all:

Audacious Leadership: How To Become A Leader That Is Bold, Innovative, Inventive, and Unconstrained by Previous Ideas.

A big challenge in an organization is when the leadership team becomes very comfortable and addicted to its business model and is not “paranoid” about the newest innovations and great technology that are around the corner.

As an example, here are some innovative ideas that could change how we do business.

How prepared are you for these changes? Will you embrace it or be resistant to the changes?

• Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR).

These are two closely related technologies that could have a huge impact on business (and personal life). Today, on most websites, we point and click on a screen to items we want to purchase. In the AR/VR world, you could put on special glasses (or use your AR/VR-enabled smartphone) and see in three dimensions the products you wish to buy. Through either hand motions or a controller, you could drag and drop it into your basket. Done!

• Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Today all new cars, especially self-driving cars, use AI to see the road, see the lines, see if another car is slowing down, etc. But AI is also being used in almost every industry, from hiring employees to telemedicine and everything in between.

Here is how one innovative company is using AR/VR technology. This company owns undeveloped residential properties in many different states. Once upon a time, they would have to clear the property and build model houses to have agents show the houses. It was expensive and time consuming, and layout changes were difficult.

Now they build houses in 3D on their AR/VR-enabled website and invite clients or potential clients to view the different sites and then pick from a library any house layout that they can actually “walk into.” Any changes are done just by clicking on a room and moving it, enlarging it or just throwing it out, etc. Once confirmed, they print the blueprint in 3D, and it goes directly to the developer.

They are saving time and money and enhancing the customer experience.

Here’s another example. A company I worked with was challenged that they needed to stock a significant amount of items in their distributors’ warehouse stores.

It was expensive and prone to damage. Plus, if the client wanted changes or needed more info, it required that they send requests to the store, which would then send it to the supplier, and it would end up taking a lot of time until the deal was done.

We designed a website that would allow a potential client to log in and feel as if they’re sitting side-by-side with a designer. They can discuss and choose items, layouts, colors and size just by the flick of their hand or a controller. They are able to see the layouts in 3D, click on the library to see other items or colors and update their plan instantly. Then they just click on the “approve” button for it to go to the supplier.

Create a time for innovative thinking — out-of-the-box, any-idea-goes thinking — and create audacious goals so that you’re at the forefront of ideas.

Jacob M. Engel

Author and CEO of The Prosperous Leader. Creator of the Prosperous Courses. Where leaders learn to lead!

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