3 tools for Founders, CEOs and Heads of Department to use in 2019 planning which breaks away from goals based where you have been, to focus on where you want to be
It’s the middle of January and the time has passed for getting through the inbox build-up and putting out the fires burning from before Christmas, and the full team are finally back in and up and running. With that in mind, are you truly ready for 2019? Do you know what you want this year to be, how it fits with long-term objectives and what it’s going to take to get there? Or is it more ‘business as usual’?
Take a step back from the day to day and imagine this year as an opportunity, an opportunity to do more rather than just more of the same. You should look at this on a business level and individual level, for the purposes of this article we will focus on the business.
For an individual focus have a read of How to be sure you achieve big things in 2019.
With the objective making sure the business moves a big step forward in 2019, I’m going to share with you 3 key tools you need to go away and put into action, then you’ll be well on your way. These tools are all from the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a system to ensure businesses have continuous clarity on vision as a method of achieving those big wild goals!
A few rules first:
Do not do this exercise alone - you cannot expect to have the much needed buy-in of your leadership team if you make these decisions on their behalf. Additionally, you will miss out on the diverse opinion required to define the best business outcomes
Do not use phrases such as ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ or ‘we don’t usually do that’ - this isn’t an exercise in where you’ve been, it’s about where you’re going and as Marshall Goldsmith named one of his books ‘What got you here won’t get you there’
Do get out of the office for this one - coffee shop, co-working space, somebody’s home? It doesn’t matter so long as it allows you to work on the business by taking away the distractions keeping you in the business
Tool number 1: Big picture vision
To know what the plan is for this year, you need to understand where you eventually want to get to, we’re talking far into the future. For some businesses this is 10 years, for others more or less, it’s however long it will realistically take to get to the place you want to be, but this can be decided later.
To do this exercise you need to ignore where you’ve been, ignore the challenges, obstacles, the current team. Imagine what it will look and feel like to be where you’d really like to get to.
Inspiration for this future date could come from a very successful competitor, perhaps you have dreams for the business way beyond your competition seeking to achieve something never before achieved, or the long-term vision could come from an original goal (often Founders launch businesses with a big picture vision in mind, though it may get forgotten along the way). Wherever your inspiration comes from, let your mind wander, share your ideas and thoughts with your team over a coffee or two, and see what comes out of the discussion.
How do you define your vision?
What you’re seeking is motivational triggers, for some it is money and what turnover or net profit the business will be recording, for others it is lifestyle and hinges on the size and design of the office and the day-to-day of an employee, it may be focused on innovation within services or products you offer, or the types of companies you may eventually call clients. The key is to capture all of these points in order to paint the picture of your future business. The final result will be a vision which all of your employees can buy into, it will be a tool for engagement.
Once you’ve pulled all the information together and it truly paints a beautiful picture, take a bold step and assign a timeframe to it. It doesn’t matter what the timeframe is so long as it is realistic (not pessimistic). Assigning a timeframe shows a commitment to achieving this vision, now you can be confident it will happen.
Tool number 2: Core focus
This term is probably not unfamiliar to you, however it is likely that you may not be using it in the way it can be truly valuable. The core focus of your business should define exactly what fits within your business and what doesn’t.
Many businesses struggle to make the transition from start-up to maturity, and even when they consider themselves mature, still exhibit some habits of a start-up. One common demonstration of this is the ‘any money is money’ mentality. For a start-up, it is often necessary to be flexible, taking on business which perhaps doesn’t 100% align with the objective, but provides the necessary funding to have that luxury later. For a mature business, this mentality needs to go.
By accurately defining the core focus of your business, you decide on what your perfect business is and you use this description to prevent distraction from potential business which doesn’t align. This ensures you maintain the energy and focus required to drive towards your big goals and it means you get there faster because you are not wasting time on business which tends to be less profitable if not in the short-term, then certainly in the longer-term.
How do you define your core focus?
Passion/cause/purpose - what does your business live to do, love to do, what is its purpose?
Niche - what 3 factors make your business unique as compared to your competition?
Once you’ve defined your core focus take a look at it - is it clear enough and specific enough for you to be able to filter between business which fits and that which doesn’t? Make sure you get this right and refer to it regularly.
Tool number 3: 2019 plan
Now that you know where you want the business to be long-term, and you’ve defined where your core focus needs to be, you can determine your 2019 plan. Most businesses set their goals and targets for the year by looking at the previous year and going for a little more. This is a little narrow, don’t you think?
Your 2019 plan needs to be the first step towards your big picture vision and so think logically about defining it. For example, if your vision has a 10-year timeframe, this next year is the 1st of 10, so how will you reach 1/10 of your big picture vision this year, what will that look like?
Don’t get too prescriptive here, that’s easy to do, instead trust your instincts. The idea is simply to ensure that over the next 12 months (11.5 actually!) you are putting in place the foundations to get you to where you want to be in the long-term, and not getting stuck in a cycle doing more of the same.
How do you write a 2019 plan?
Define your 2019 plan in the same way as you did your big picture vision, include the necessary financial performance, together with the more descriptive features which bring your vision to life.
Once complete ask yourself, can we do this this year? Use your newly defined core focus to identify any obstacles/distractions in your business which need to be removed to clear the path towards your big goal.
Now that your big picture vision, core focus and 2019 plan is in place - go shout about it. Communicate it with the whole company, talk about it in team meetings, write it on the walls, create a company song about it (I’ve gone too far). The key is to make sure everybody knows about it, everybody is working towards it, and it is helping motivate and energise not only your team, but you!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article, are these steps your business has taken? Is it working? Are you successfully removing obstacles in your way and is it motivating your team? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d always love to hear from you and if I can guide you at all, of course I will.
The tools outlined in this article, and some of the methods towards achieving them are defined by the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). As an EOS Implementer I coach teams on the use of such tools and the steps required to put them into action and realise results. To read more about EOS and other tools for entrepreneurial businesses, start with a book called Traction by Gino Wickman.
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