Uncategorized

Topics

0 Comments

While hiring Big Foot would certainly cause a splash within your industry, it’s probably not the way you want to stand out in the marketplace. There is, however, something else that’s big and hairy that could make your company stand out from the crowd—and garner you the kind of attention you really want.

What I’m talking about is a BHAG: A Big Hairy Audacious Goal. This isn’t something like: “Increase sales by 5 percent” or “Reduce costs by 10 percent.” A BHAG is a long-range goal (maybe 10-20 years in the achieving) that dramatically changes your company because it stretches your company—and makes it a great company.

Gazelles Systems defines it this way:

Your BHAG should connect with both the Head and Heart of your organization.

Head: Alignment and Focus to achieve a single goal.

Heart: Emotion that makes us proud and happy to do our work.

A BHAG should be a huge, daunting challenge for a company—like climbing Mount Everest. A great BHAG will be clear and compelling, and will serve as a catalyst for growth and inspiration.  It is the North Star you need to guide short-term behavior and decisions that favor the long-term benefit of the company.  It is tangible, energizing, highly focused and has a clear finish line.  People should get it right away, requiring little or no explanation.  It’s the critical link you need to connect execution to strategy.

Those of us who have an entrepreneurial spirit tend to have some big ideas and big goals. A truly life-changing, company-changing, industry-changing goal, however, needs to be more than just big. It needs to be more than audacious. And that’s where business leaders often flounder. There are several key words buried in that Gazelles description: tangible, focused, and clear finish line. I’d like to add another word: measureable.

  • Your company-defining goal needs to be tangible. It has to be real. It’s OK if others can’t quite grasp it at the beginning, but it needs to be something that’s actually achievable and that brings real benefit.
  • Your goal must be focused. It has to be specific. You have to be able to define it and not settle for vague “industry-speak” platitudes (“cutting edge” or “best-of-industry”). At some point you need people outside of your own company to instantly understand what it is you’re doing—and how it will benefit them.
  • Your goal has to have a clear finish line. At some point, you need to be able to say that you achieved your goal. And it needs to be clear to everyone that you did. There’s an old proverb that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” It’s true. If you continue to work on a goal without ever arriving, it takes the heart right out of you and your employees.
  • All of this leads up to having a goal that is measurable. What are the metrics you’ll have in place by which you’ll measure your success? That’s one sure-fire way to determine if you’re setting good goals. If you can’t come up with very specific ways to measure both periodic and ultimate progress, you don’t have a BHAG—you have a WHAG (a Wild Haired Audacious Idea).

So think big! Think audacious! But before you set your goal, make sure you’re able to measure it. Otherwise your Big Hairy Audacious Goal will be nothing more than Big Foot—an enticing myth that eludes capture.

Most Related Post

  • No Related Posts
Uncategorized

Topics

0 Comments

The new year is still new enough that many of us still have a fair amount of excitement and enthusiasm for what’s yet to come. Maybe you’re getting ready to do some strategic planning for your company. If so, one of the key elements to successful strategic planning (and to the success of your company) is having a clear vision for where you want your company to be in the future.

Unfortunately, when we talk about vision, the picture sometimes gets a little fuzzy. And if you’re the one responsible for casting the vision for your company, that can be a problem. How do you go about casting a clear vision for your company?

When we think of vision, we often think of company goals. But vision is more than just setting goals. Goals are hugely important, but what I’m talking about goes beyond simply setting—and meeting—strategic goals. Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say one of your goals is to double revenue for the year. That’s both specific and measurable. It’s a good goal. But it’s not the whole story. What would your company look like if you actually achieved that goal? Would it affect the number of employees you have? Would you be able to meet demand with the facilities you currently have?  What would this growth do to your corporate culture? Would doubling your revenue change the way you do business?

Can you envision these things? Achieving your goals will probably bring about some significant changes. Are they the kind of changes you want? Is the kind of company you will become the kind of company you want to be? And what about your team? Is this the kind of company they want to be a part of? If you and your team don’t share the same vision for your company, you won’t realize the fulfillment of that vision.

Casting a vision for your business needs to go beyond setting measurable benchmarks for growth and profitability. You need to think about things such as quality, sustainability, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. What do you want your business to look like? What does success look like for you? Is it merely growth and profitability? Or is your vision for something bigger, more all encompassing than that?

Should you have specific, measurable goals? Absolutely! Should you monitor them regularly? Yes! But those goals should help you to fulfill a vision or a dream of what you want your company to be.

In his book, Double Double, Cameron Herold talks about what he calls “the painted picture.” It’s how he describes the process of casting a vision for what you want your company to look like. I thought you might find this look at his first chapter helpful.

Make sure your vision is clear, and then you can work on setting the goals that will help you realize that vision. And if you need some help doing that, I’ve got some tools and some principles I can share with you.

Most Related Post

  • No Related Posts
Planning, Strategy Development

Topics

0 Comments

The calendar may still say November, but before you blink, it will be the start of a new year. If you’re like a lot of businesses, that means taking stock of where you are right now and mapping out a plan for getting where you want to go next year—a plan for success.

Everybody knows that proper planning is one of the keys to achieving success, but I’d like to suggest that in order to plan successfully, you have to plan to plan. That’s not double-talk (and no, I’m not getting into the eggnog early!). It’s simply that planning for your business success can be a bit of a maze, and good strategic planning requires preparation. Here are five things you can start thinking about now, so that when you actually have your planning meeting, you’ll be ready to get some serious work done as you map out your plan for 2014.

1. What were you great at in 2013? Where did you exceed customers’ (and your own) expectations? Have you got data to back that up? Why do you think you were successful in those areas? What specific steps can you take to carry that success forward in 2014?

2. Do you have the right team in place to achieve your targeted growth in 2014? If you have weak links in the chain, can that be corrected by coaching, training, clarification of goals, or skill development? Or do you need to look at making some personnel changes? If you’re not happy with someone’s performance, there’s a good chance he or she isn’t happy, either.

3. Have you clearly identified your “A-list” clients? What are your criteria for determining that? Have you developed a clear and precise “persona” of what your ideal client looks like? What’s your plan for finding more clients that meet those criteria in 2014?

4. Where do you need to invest in 2014? Real growth doesn’t happen without investment. Your investment may be in training your people, or hiring the right skill set. It may be in your infrastructure (technology or equipment). Or it may be time invested in your process, to make sure you’re as efficient as possible. Those are a few of the things you need to invest in if you want sustained growth.

5. What lessons did you learn in 2013 that can lead to greater success in 2014? These lessons could be missteps you made (it’s not really a “failure” unless you fail to learn from it). Or you may have learned from someone else’s mistakes. Maybe you saw a competitor go down in flames. Why did that happen—and how can you avoid it? Or maybe you were surprised by an unexpected success (see #1). What can you intentionally do to make that kind of thing happen again?

Mull these things over (and have your leadership team think about them) before you meet to do your strategic planning. It’s a great way to clear the path to good planning—and success—in the coming year!

Most Related Post

  • No Related Posts
Leadership

Topics

0 Comments

As a business leader you’ve no doubt heard the admonition to “work smarter, not harder.” Maybe the phrase has crossed your own lips a time or two. But is working smarter really about intelligence? Does being the smartest cookie on the business plate guarantee your success?

Best-selling author Travis Bradberry notes that people with the highest levels of intelligence (IQ) outperform those with average IQs just 20 percent of the time, while people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70 percent of the time.

Is there something even more important than business smarts? Stephen Covey seemed to think so. In the beginning of Bradberry’s book he wrote: “Research shows convincingly that [Emotional Intelligence] is more important than IQ in almost every role and many times more important in leadership roles. This finding is accentuated as we move from the control philosophy of the industrial age to an empowering release philosophy of the knowledge worker age. Self-awareness, self-motivation, and regulation are foundational to empathy and social skills.”

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are emotional beings and emotions play a huge role in the way business gets done. In fact, decisions are often made based on emotions—and then justified by intellect. What does that mean for a leader? It means leaders can’t lead on the basis of intelligence or data alone. In order to lead effectively, they need to develop their emotional intelligence. That means leaders have to be able to identify, assess, and control the emotions of themselves, of others, and of groups.

Bradberry suggests that there are two basic areas of focus for developing emotional intelligence. First, there is an internal focus. A leader needs to be self-aware: He needs to understand what drives his emotions, decisions, and actions. But it’s not enough to simply recognize this. A leader must also self-manage these emotions: He must learn—not to ignore these emotions, but to control them.

There’s also an external focus. A good leader needs to be socially aware: He needs to have his finger on the pulse of employees and customers in order to understand how and why they act the way they do. But as with the internal focus, awareness isn’t enough. A good leader must also understand relational management: He must be able to manage differing emotional drivers and triggers in order to achieve success.

Some studies indicate that 90 percent of top performers have a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence), and that EQ may be twice as important as IQ in achieving success. In other words, even if you’re the smartest businessperson in the world, if you don’t know why people act the way they do—and can’t motivate them—you’re not going to get very far.

In your business relationships, where do you see emotions affecting decisions that you perhaps think should be completely “logical?”

Most Related Post

  • No Related Posts
Business Growth, Strategy Development

Topics

0 Comments

To be honest, there’s probably more than one formula for success. And some people can follow a formula religiously—and still not succeed. Maybe that’s because too many business people focus on the “formula” and not enough on working that formula.

I’d like to suggest a formula for success—and describe what it means to work that formula. The formula itself is fairly simple: Dreams + Vision + Goals + Actions = Success. That seems pretty straightforward.

Dreams are unfettered, “what-if” ideas. They’re not bound by practicality or feasibility. And nobody asks what a dream costs. But dreams are critical to coming up with a product or a service that nobody else is pursuing. If you don’t dream, you’ll probably just do the same thing everyone else is doing—and be stuck with the unenviable task of trying to convince potential customers why they should choose you instead of your competitor. Dreams are crucial to success. But they’re not enough.

Vision comes into play when you take your dreams and begin to flesh out what it’s going to take to make those dreams a reality. Your vision is a bit more defined. It takes on specific parameters. It’s more measurable. It’s still broad, but it’s more specific than your dreams. You’re moving toward something concrete. But having a vision for what success looks like isn’t enough. Your vision drives what comes next.

Goals are specific, measurable milestones. You either hit them, or you don’t. You may adjust them if they’re off—but you set them and then, at regular intervals, you track whether you’ve achieved them or not. Hitting or not hitting your goals tells you in no uncertain terms whether you’re making progress. And if you’re not hitting your goals, you have to take corrective steps. But simply having goals won’t get you where you want to go. Those goals need something more.

Actions are where the rubber hits the road. You won’t see your dreams fulfilled, your vision come to fruition, or your goals realized unless you take action. The specific actions you take grow out of your dreams, vision, and goals. But this is where the work part of the formula comes into play. What specific actions do you need to take in order to achieve your desired results? It’s all theory until you take action.

Of course, there’s a bit more to success than a simple formula. If you look at the funnel illustration above, you’ll notice that the funnel gets narrower as you continue the process. That’s because your thinking and your actions become increasingly specific and have definite consequences. It’s good to start broad and encourage new ideas, but the farther along you go in the process, the more you need to narrow your focus and deliver on specifics.

What are your biggest challenges in moving from dreams to success?

If you’re looking for a way to take your business to the next level of success, check out the 2011 Business Excellence Forum.  It’s the year’s premier event for small business owners and entrepreneurs – offering a unique opportunity to discover cutting-edge business strategies from some of the top entrepreneurs, speakers and coaches in the world.

 

Most Related Post

  • No Related Posts