Execution – The Ultimate Strategic Initiative

Strategic Initiatives (Part 10)

Execute! Is our theme for 2012. We selected this theme because we know that the opportunities we anticipate seeing for businesses in 2012 will require that you take action, execute plans, engage and start initiatives. Execution is the ultimate strategic initiative. Without execution, the initiative never has a chance of succeeding.

Yes, there is always planning, analysis and preparation for any initiative, but often these become the activity rather than actually executing the plan of initiative. Too much time and energy spent prior to execution can really water down the excitement and momentum. It is also a wonderful point to showcase strong leadership in action. Here are a few tips that might be helpful.

I always find that working toward successful execution works best working backwards from the “Go Live” date. The Go Live date drives so many other factors and becomes a quick reality check. Consider the timing of the Go Live date in conjunction with other internal or external events and commitments. The advantages that can be gained by planning to either coincide with something where you can ride a wave, or be the stand alone that gets all of the attention, can be critical in terms of impact. On occasion an initiative has a quiet rather than celebrated Go Live, especially when the initiative solves a complicated issue that does not need any more attention.

Delegate! Even though you may be the best and the greatest, sharing the work with others not only helps, it takes some of the burden. It also helps others to be engaged, share the excitement and add valuable ideas and energy.

Communicate! Communications are critical and need to include status checks and information updates on a regular basis. Communications are a part of your leadership responsibilities in delegation. Consider grouping email and other near instant communications so that there is an expected update communication rather than a barrage of unorganized stream of consciousness emails. Too many communications means that the recipient may not see the order and react to the oldest first or the newest without the needed preliminary information. It also helps so that someone does not feel overwhelmed and ignore or pick and choose communications. If the initiative is not a secret, have periodic updates written to build anticipation.

Set milestones and celebrate milestones successfully met. Milestones celebrated help everyone feel the forward momentum. It also allows the list to be reduced, which helps with the feeling of accomplishment.

Don’t get buried in the details. Details may make or break the success, but the leader cannot be involved in each. It erodes the empowerment built in delegation and creates an environment of micro-management which can be perceived as the expected style. Attention and acknowledgement of the details with inspection will be preferred.

Comment, compliment and catch people doing things right. One of your biggest roles as a leader is to reward behaviors, actions and accomplishments proactively. Sometimes, it’s important that you notice or recognize effort and impact in front of others. This builds the team and creates allegiance to you and the initiative.

A leader is always valued, known and revered by the initiatives successfully executed. They are often remembered for their failures. Communication and engagement will often determine the perspective. Using the tips given, a great leader will be able to avert, mitigate or change course so that failures never see a Go Live date.

As you consider the strategic initiatives for 2012, remember that execution of each is the ultimate strategic initiative.

This post concludes the Strategic Initiatives series and our Soltys, Inc. blog posts for 2011. We certainly wish you, your company and family the best of holidays and a prosperous new year. Thank you for your readership.

The 2012 Blog Series begins with Launch in January, Loving and Business in February and Lucky in March. In January we will also run a fun participation contest to help you launch some of your initiatives.


Business Farming

Strategic Initiatives (Part 9)

Max is the consummate business farmer. Like Johnny Appleseed, Max spreads seeds all the time and knows that some will take root. Max does not worry about how many seeds are dropped, how many might sprout or what to do with them if they do sprout, grow and bear fruit. Max simply makes sure that no matter what else is going on, seeds are sown. Everything else will be dealt with once something happens. No brain cells are burned with “what ifs.”

There are many Max’s – whether they are a Maximillian or a Maxine. These people are direct and to the point in their conversations. The conversation almost always includes an invitation to business no matter who you are, the occasion or the setting. It is not an obnoxious or rude inquiry. In fact you expect it and wonder if something is wrong if you do not get the invitation. The invitation may be about buying something, selling something or selling your company to them.

Max has some basic rules of business farming:
  1. Always ask for business, you cannot get a yes unless you ask.
  2. It is like the game of “Duck, Duck, Goose” only, in this case, it is no, no, yes.
  3. A no is not forever and is simply the answer to the current question. Like a seed that is not ready, if it is never planted, it cannot germinate.
  4. Emails, mail and advertising require action on the part of the recipient and have far fewer results than a direct conversation. An image of an orchard never grows a tree.
  5. A conversation opens the door to explore possibilities, potential and obtains permission to call again.
  6. Thank them for their time and/or consideration and ask who else you should call.
  7. Deliver on all promises.
  8. Even if you got a no, send a follow-up note or email.
  9. You need to listen two to three times as much as you talk. The best deals are usually made when the other person is giving information.
  10. You cannot control the environment but you can certainly take advantage of the conditions. If business has been bad, there is a reason to call. If business has been good, there is a reason to call.
  11. It does not take money to ask for business.
  12. Farming is not a one crop or cycle venture.

Max always seems to have a finger on the pulse of what is going on: who will do what, when, and why? The how and how much, like a tree in the orchard given a chance to grow, will find a path to the sun. Max’s knowledge and chances of success grow with each call made. It is a matter of how many calls. Max’s farming is such a large part of the business, that there is an appointment set for making calls every single week. Max does not rely on chance, but over-seeds for the crop to be harvested.

The strategic initiative of business farming changes the dynamic from waiting for something to happen to making something happen.


Exit Strategies

Strategic Initiatives (Part 8)

A number of requests have come in lately for assistance with exit strategies for owners and key performers. For some it is because of age, others are simply tired of being beaten up by the economy and many have more dreams to pursue.

An exit strategy is a strategic initiative and should be considered the day the business is conceived. Knowing possible options for exit and transference builds the business to maximize the value when the opportunity becomes an option. The key words here are option and opportunity. We all know that just about everything in business is for sale dependent on price, terms and conditions. It is being ready and able to execute when the right opportunity or circumstance occurs that makes a huge difference in the satisfaction gained and value realized.

First of all, what is an exit strategy? An exit strategy is a defined course of action designed to culminate in the transition of duties, responsibilities and often ownership, with a desired beneficial outcome.

Optimally, all businesses would have an exit strategy or strategies in mind at the inception of business, but most business owners do not start to consider initiating a strategy until a life or business changing point or circumstance occurs. At that point, options are fewer and, in some cases, the peak point of value may have already passed...a person who was considered an heir apparent has taken another path or the business has not built the processes and team for continuance without the current owner of leadership.

So where do you start to build a strategy? Ask yourself these questions:
  1. Consider what you want to do post-transition. Do you want to leave or stay involved? What roles and responsibilities are important to you? Can you tolerate someone else driving the direction of the company if you remain in some capacity?
  2. Who is the likely successor? Is it a third party unrelated buyer or someone in the company currently? Is it perhaps a family member or other person not currently involved that can either work into ownership or be “gifted” ownership? If there is an heir apparent, are they ready, willing and able to take the lead with passion?
  3. What do I want out of the business if sold? What am I willing to do to make the sale or transition occur in terms of time, money and my involvement or commitment? If I am going on to other ventures or retiring, am I willing to be non-competitive?
  4. What are the dependencies to you executing your exit strategy? Consider money, time, life circumstance, achievements and other opportunities for starters.
  5. Are the people, processes and business elements in place for continued viability and to produce a return on investment for someone else if you are not a part of the picture?
  6. If you got a call from someone interested in buying your company, what would be your first reaction? What would you need to know and what would be your next step?
These are just starter questions but extremely important in considering the options and potential for an exit strategy. A well planned exit is the culminating strategic initiative of a successful business.


Brand Is More Than A Logo

Strategic Initiatives (Part 7)

Earlier this week I was handed a corporate style guide for a company for which I was doing some design work. I’ve come across style guides before, but this one was especially thorough: over forty pages detailing how to properly display the company logo, what colors and fonts to use, what kind of photographs to select and even what kind of voice to use when writing content. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this company has some stunningly effective marketing materials. This company knows exactly what they want and how they want the company to be represented, and have a great strategy that leaves almost nothing to chance.

I bring this up to underscore a key marketing concept: branding is more than just a logo. In fact, it’s a lot more than just a logo. Ideally, branding should flow through every facet of a company, setting a consistent tone for everything from internal memos to anything that the public might happen to see. Branding is the narrative that a company tells its stakeholders and customers. It’s the affirmation of corporate stability. It’s an emotional connection between a company and its customers. It’s a vital piece of the arsenal in the constant vying for potential customers’ attention. Therefore, it’s better to think of fonts, logos and colors not so much as an endgame for branding, but more like tools that trigger an instant recognition and reinforce feelings of familiarity and personal preference.

Suffice to say, with all the corporate psychology that goes into marketing a company, successful branding is rarely something that is merely stumbled upon or handed over to a haphazard approach. Branding is a strategic endeavor that requires careful planning, a focused approach and a willingness to reevaluate the plan from time to time and fix any kinks in the armor. To start on the path to a calculated, planned-out approach to branding, start by asking the following questions:
  • Is all of your marketing material cut from the same cloth?
  • Can you go so far as to sense a common message and style even between your business cards and your website?
  • Do all of your materials accurately reflect your corporate atmosphere? Are the materials playful and irreverent while the tone around the office is button down and formal?
  • If you stripped off all of the logos and mentions of your company from a piece of marketing material, could an outsider look at it and still recognize that if came from your company?
  • Does every piece of your company’s material serve a purpose and deliver a clear message, or were some things created because it “seemed like something we should have” or perhaps it was adopted from a company you are affiliated with?
  • Is every piece of your company’s marketing material a smaller part of a greater plan, like cogs in a machine?
Take a long look at how your company is branded and picture yourself as someone looking in from the outside. Ask yourself what your company’s materials are saying and how they make you feel. If you don’t feel that you have a strategy for branding your company that you and those who work for you can follow, make the necessary adjustments. If you feel like you’re in over your head, remember that there are marketing professionals like me who specialize in getting you on track.  I'm happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to send me an email or post a comment on this post..

For more information on the importance of branding please check out Brand Identity Assessment and What's In A Name?

Let 2012 be the year that you came up with a solid plan for branding your company, execute it and capitalize on the success.


The Strategy of Engagement

Strategic Initiatives (Part 6)

So, after yesterday’s post, you’ve started thinking about which social media platforms best suit your business style and practice, as well as which offer you the best potential ROI. You’ll launch that campaign, or revamp a current campaign. Then what?

The penultimate goal of any social media campaign is engagement. What exactly does that mean? A quick check of the dictionary is in order (we’ve edited down the full definition):

v. en·gaged, en·gag·ing, en·gag·es
4. To attract and hold the attention of; engross: a hobby that engaged her for hours at a time.
5. To win over or attract: His smile engages everyone he meets.
6. To draw into; involve: engage a shy person in conversation.
7. To require the use of; occupy: Studying engages most of my time.

You hear “social media experts” and “gurus” telling you to engage your audience, but what garners engagement and sharing of your message. What types of content work?

We could wax poetic for days and still not get to the heart of the engagement matter. So we’re simplifying with some “e” tactics that will help with your “e”ngagement goals.

Educate: Are you the best and most knowledgeable company in your industry? Are you an industry or niche leader? Educate your audience about your strengths, your outstanding track record, your great client approval rating or your latest successful case study. It’s an innate human trait to want the best. How do we decide what’s best? By knowing as much as we can. Make sure your prospects and clients know you’re the experts by educating them.

Excerpt: Studies have shown that most people skim, rather than actually read, online. So, how do you get them to really read your fantastic content. Learn the art of the engaging excerpt. Can you sum up your idea, your premise, your goal in a sentence or two...perhaps a short paragraph? If not, it’s a skill you need to learn. It’s information overload on the digital business highway and you have to grab their attention before they skip your exit completely and choose a new destination.

Empathize: Clients sometimes have problems and issues. Software crashes, a sale falls through, something breaks. How will you handle complaints or concerns voiced on your social media platforms? The Netflix debacle made it clear you can’t ignore them and the Nestle meltdown showed antisocial behavior on a social media site brought about an epic fail. First and foremost, you must empathize and it better come across in a sincere fashion. Apologize. Ask how you can help. If suitable offer a replacement or a repair. Negative press happens, but you can turn a negative into a positive with careful and empathetic handling. For more on this topic, check out The Social Media Reprimand.

Elicit: Ask for and hopefully you shall receive. Elicit is a fancy way to say “ask”, and we needed an “e” word. Engaging your followers means eliciting a response, a like, a comment, a share, a referral, a connection request and so on. How do you get any one of these? Ask for it. Make sure your posts have an action statement, if not an all out call to action.

Entertain: The Pick and Mix blog post stated that we want to do business with people we like and enjoy. The best way we know to make sure people enjoy our company is to work to entertain our audience. People who are passionate about their business should have no problem effectively entertaining their audience while engaging them. Entertainment can, and should be, professional and should never leave your audience feeling uncomfortable. You can entertain with humor, with a “did” you know question, with a shared story or with an amusing photo or video. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing the occasional tasteful joke or quote. It lightens the mood, softens the sell, and shows that you’re human. People don’t engage with robots, except the occasional hand-to-hand combat in movies like the Terminator!

This engagement, if successful, is the true test of social media ROI. Just like the engagement before marriage, it is getting to know each other and working out details for the future. It is also a promise. Fail to engage and you fail to make the most of the time, energy and money you put into a social media campaign.


Pick & Mix: Social Media Platforms

Strategic Initiatives (Part 5)

You can’t do anything, it seems, without being reminded that social media is big business. And with these reminders come questions which can leave us feeling less than savvy about this latest business innovation. Questions that can be hard to answer.

Are you on Twitter? What’s your handle? What hashtags do you follow? Can we set up the meeting in a hangout? How many fans do you have? How many connections? Do you blog? Do you have a YouTube channel. How do I sign up for your newsletter? When’s your next webinar? Do you have a QR Code?

While business owners expect to answer questions about their business, with the advent of social media and digital business, some business owners are hard pressed to know what the question’s really about. Is it about successfully running your business or is it about online face time and being the cool kid on the block?

There’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Constant Contact, Foursquare, Google Plus, Wordpress and a bevy of other social media platforms that we feel we’re supposed to be “on” in order to be a successful and savvy business in the digital age. But, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Shhhhhh...don’t let this get out to everyone. You don’t have to be “on” all of them. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.

The idea that you should showcase your business on each and every one of these “free” social media platforms has become de rigueur, but it’s not really practical. Someone, or several someones, within your organization has to put the time, effort and creativity into designing, managing and maintaining your social media presence and message. We’ve all heard the phrase jack of all trades, master of none. Ineffective use of social media can make us feeling like that jack.

Is it worth it? Absolutely! Can you measure effectiveness, ROI? Yes, with a caveat that it’s not always measurable with hard numbers and dollar signs. You just have to choose the platform or platforms that will work best for you, your business and your business style.

Do you have a lot of timely and time sensitive information to impart? Can you promote special offers and instant savings? If you answered yes, then maintaining a Twitter following is a viable option and a valuable use of your social media time and resources. How do you measure? Was your message retweeted (forwarded)? If it was, that’s a small, but powerful return on the single tweet investment. Your initial tweet can now be seen by every follower of the retweeter.

Are you looking for gate openers and referral resources? The beauty of Linkedin comes from the business intent of LinkedIn users and the lesser frequency of status updates, which means you and your message stay in mind longer, with less time invested. The ability to request and share referrals makes it an incredibly viable “silent” or “digital” word of mouth generator. You get a return on your investment when you receive a referral, when you can ask for and receive and introduction and when someone engages with your content with a like or a follow up question. Word of mouth has a proven track record for business generation. Linkedin allows for greater word of mouth reach and sharing.

It has been proven time and time again that people do business with other people they like, trust and enjoy. In order for people to like, trust and enjoy you it is necessary to build a relationship. Can this be done on a larger scale with a business focus? Definitely. With a well designed and crafted Facebook branded business presence. When well done, a branded page engages with a large online community and builds a level of trust, via transparency. You measure ROI with the level of and frequency of engagement. Do your posts get likes? Are they shared? Do you get questions, comments and even business ideas? Each like, each comment shows on your page, but it also broadens your reach, showing up on the feed of every person who likes the bestower of the like or comment.

While we certainly haven’t covered every social media platform, nearly impossible...as new ones crop up every day, we hope we’ve given you a sense that properly planned and executed social media campaigns have a value and a return on investment, and, thus, should be a careful consideration as part of your business strategy, and business marketing. Successful social media campaigns are crafted, tested and hewn with care...they are not fly by night, scattershot initiatives with little thought or planning. They aren’t add-ons or “if we have time” list additions. They can and should be a strategic, well-crafted, well-planned focus within your business and marketing objectives.

If you haven’t already, please come "like" our Facebook page, as we’ll be sharing some of our social media top tips and best practices over the next twelve days. If you have any questions about other platforms or would like to discuss social media and its value and place within your company’s strategic initiatives, please send us an email, we’d love to speak with you.



Strategic Initiatives (Part 4)

Truly great and exciting strategic initiatives require entrepreneurial spirit, drive and leadership! I think it is interesting that the term entrepreneur is often used as a synonym for owner, as it is not synonymous. Not all entrepreneurs are owners and you can own or hold something without being an entrepreneur. The difference is risk with significant initiative.

The entrepreneurial spirit is a hunter seeker, not a gatherer. It lives for the taste of the win. The spirit delights in the finesse of the hunt and capture. It is not afraid of the work that will be involved and knows that there are few perfect situations. The entrepreneur is also a strategist who will consider advantages, disadvantages, and different methodologies. They calculate collateral damage that may occur against the win. It is not win at all costs.

They are perceived as having no fear. Rather than fear they sense issues of concern and work around them, through them or with them as a part of their strategy, as they know that fear, while a driver for the timid, has no value in moving forward. Risk is always a part of the equation but is not reduced to fear which is an emotion.

The entrepreneurial drive is passionate and unrelenting. No matter the level of success there is always an appetite for more. The passion pulsates and invigorates others extending the drive, the force and employment of talent in reaching the goal. It is rare for the entrepreneur to have only one objective, pursuit or project at any given time. They are a factory unto themselves producing ideas, what ifs and opportunities. They are often held in awe, just in terms of the way they think.

Each venture has a defined return on investment (ROI). It may be financial, positional or a necessary step toward another goal. Ventures are never casual and require a certain level of excitement. The boring and mundane are never satisfying and are delegated with purpose and results to be obtained to “managers” who are indeed nurturers and gatherers. The managers are considered vitally important as the entrepreneur will never be successful on their own, they need people who can take the raw opportunities they bring to fruition, integrate them, nurture and then create internal growth.

The entrepreneur is a leader, a leader worthy of followership. They are often charismatic and considered to be a force. It is not unusual that, at least in initial, non-social meetings, they sometimes come across as unfriendly or all business with little fluff. The drive and passion usually are noticed far ahead of the deep caring that they usually have. Few are ruthless or heartless and they draw people to them for their business savvy and forward movement. No one likes to follow someone standing still.

The entrepreneur is a builder and will usually leave a legacy. They will not have been successful in every venture but they do learn from their mistakes. A part of that legacy is often the new companies and businesses started, either through them or as a result of their actions. They often help to define and grow other entrepreneurs who will spin off to their own business with what they have learned. The legacy is never simply their business but is often found in each person they have touched. Many will talk about them long after they are gone and the impact they had on their lives and business.

I love working with entrepreneurs, they are exciting and they accomplish goals. They understand risk and invested initiative. They are inspired, dream big, love deeply and are tantalized by mystery and that which is to be explored. They know that each strategic initiative is important as a step to realizing something bigger and better.


Position of Strength

Strategic Initiatives (Post 3)

Yesterday when we wrote about Power Plays in which a strategic initiative is leveraged, one of the key criteria was that a position of strength is required. How do you take a position of strength and what is necessary?

The first understanding has to be what is strength? Physical strength, like how many pounds you can lift, is measurable. Strength of position financially and in the marketplace can be quantified. Both of these can be impressive and useful, but will not win alone. It takes positional strength, which is always perceptual, to win.

Let’s take for example a business that has grown its customer base over the years and, while large, basically maintains its market strength due to size and reach. Few changes and little innovation are needed to maintain the company. It has become something of a fixture and a known commodity with recognition of its size. While it has size and presence, representing sizable market strength, it will be those characteristics that also make it easy to attack. The size makes it difficult to maneuver, counter attacks and implement change. A new entity or idea comes to town touting a new and different business model, throwing down a gauntlet of challenge as if it has already won position. It acts as a leader and people are interested, curious and willing to consider the new company. If the leader and voice of the new entity is also charismatic, the large company which has market strength is automatically positioned to play defense because the new entity is utilizing a position gained by perceptual strength alone. Size in this game will not matter for long, it will not even be a consideration as the distraction and perceptual strength has nothing to do with size.

A company that has become large and stale is very vulnerable and has little chance to take a position of strength as it will be engaged in both internal and external battles, always defending. Usually they do not even have the mechanisms in place to turn and become the aggressor.

Companies cannot become complacent in position or decide to take a position of strength casually or occasionally. A position of strength is a defined strategic initiative that allows the company great agility in presenting strength in many areas and styles, making attack very difficult.

Large companies do not have to be vulnerable. They, too, can leverage strengths greatly by taking positions of strength throughout the business, focusing and highlighting different areas at any given time. Think of a pot that is boiling and rolling, churning the contents over and over creating steam and energy.

Positions of strength are declarative and must be advanced with a claim that resonates and gains attention. While the company as an entity and leadership may be a quiet force, there are always communications and advances. The advances are those of an aggressor and the aggressor is seldom attacked.


Power Plays

Strategic Initiatives (Part 2)

Today, the sale of a major brand was announced, ending a position of limbo and rumor that had gone on for a prolonged period. This was a strategic initiative for the brand and a very positive move.

When a company decides to change its business structure by adding or deleting a business unit it is always a strategic decision made to strengthen the company. Both the seller and the buyer stand to benefit and gain in strength. The change is the center of a ripple effect that can carry positive energy throughout everyone affiliated if they are willing to carry that energy forward. Whenever you have the opportunity to create and execute a strategic initiative, whether related to a change such as the one that occurred today or any other you may pursue, several rules apply.
  • Position of Strength - A strategic initiative requires that everyone in the planning, execution and communication carry all actions and duties forward from a position of strength. It is much harder for a competitor to raise a challenge against strength.
  • Voice of Authority – You must be information central, speaking with a voice of authority inviting questions. Never let someone else communicate your message as it will no longer have the strength or intent you would give it. As you receive questions create a Q and A related to the change. 
  • Tone – The tone of all communications must have excitement, optimism and opportunity in the voice whether in print, verbal or presentation. The tone should never convey anxiety, caution or any other restraint. There are plenty of options to set parameters and to roll out future components and definitions without it being in the tone surrounding change.
  • Reach – Your messages and information regarding the change and initiatives you will drive as a result must have reach well beyond your company. Social media, web sites and RSS feeds play an important role the same as one to one communications and announcements to the consumers.
  • Play Offense – There is no better time than when you have the momentum of change to use as a strategic initiative to play offense. You have a better opportunity to get your message out, have key people listen to you and to be able to complete plays in process. Keep control of the game.
A strategic initiative is never business as usual. While some changes may seem to only create change at levels that do not directly impact you, using it as your own strategic initiative leveraging impact is where you gain the power.


BHAG’s, Triumphs and Victories

Strategic Initiatives Series (Part 1)

Happy 12th Month! This month is a fun one filled with celebrations, gifting and good cheer so we saved some of the greatest blog fun for this month’s series: Strategic Initiatives. We hope that you will find ideas and thoughts to spur new ideas within our posts.

Strategic initiatives often start with a BHAGBig Hairy Audacious Goal. The term introduced in the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Successful Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras gave a name to those goals which seem a bit out of reach, require strategy, wit, opportunity and a bit of luck. These goals not only align with the company’s objectives but bring out spirit in individuals and teams. They also offer a challenge that is compelling, an empowered feeling of triumph in winning and every reason to celebrate victory when the goal is met.

From the time we were children, BHAGs filled our favorite stories from The Little Engine That Could through the depiction of a BHAG achieved in the book and movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, where Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter must play and win a life sized chess game at all costs. All encourage us to think big, to reach for and accomplish what seems impossible. Each story also includes why the goal is important, what the goal enables us to do and in almost every case concludes with celebration and an invitation to challenge the next BHAG.

Some of us have personal BHAGs like losing weight during the holidays. I see some fairly unrealistic company BHAGs akin to bringing the Phoenix out of the ashes. But most of what I see companies propose should not be tagged as BHAG’s because they are too safe, normal business with little additional effort and achievable with little excitement in the process. These are really just business.

The BHAG’s that become strategic initiatives tickle the imagination, are electrical in creativity, bring out the best in everyone involved and make us dream of what happens when it is achieved. This is not a lottery type of dream as there is real effort involved and a sense of winning that is fueled by accomplishment and accented by luck rather than the other way around. While not impossible, on the surface the BHAG might appear to be out of reach. That is where the strategy comes in.

Tough challenges require finesse to achieve extraordinary results. Breaking down the BHAG into strategies creates a plan and methodology. It will still be tough and require excellent leadership, management and incremental planning. Each player will have to be at 110% of their game, thinking of ways to make their play contribute to the win, find detours around challenges and maintain focus and power through the hardest parts. The adrenaline rush of triumph, as wins are accumulated, makes the BHAG tangible and creates greater passion and drive.

Celebrations are an important part of victory. It is not simply an event that says “we did it” but more importantly is a pressure release valve and the ignition for the next BHAG. As you do your victory dance, think about the next BHAG on the horizon. Present each BHAG to the team with a bit of intrigue, a challenge, and draw your players into proposing paths to victory. Momentum driven by the achievement of your BHAGs makes a company hard to compete against.

Follow our blog series this month for ideas, examples and stories of BHAGs, achieved, failed and celebrated. To help you get started, you will find an article in our download center titled: Strategic Thinking: Ventures Outside the Box.