“I don’t think anyone out on the shop floor remembers that that’s where we are headed.”
“I don’t know why we need to spend time on what we want the company to be like in ten years … who knows?”
“Yeah … that’s what we said, but I don’t think anyone knows what that really means.”
These are a few of the phrases that I hear in the session room as I meet with Entrepreneurial Leadership Teams of growing companies each quarter. In the beginning stages of EOS implementation, we decide on a 10-Year Target for the company (or a 5- or 100-Year Target!). This Target is an example of what Jim Collins calls a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal). It stretches our brains, it clarifies our vision! Leadership Teams light up when we make these decisions; there is an energy of hope and optimism in the room! Unfortunately, sometimes the excitement fades as the quarters roll on if we don’t focus on HOW the 10-Year Target should WORK FOR US!
And that’s my job: to call your attention to the opportunity you have to make this Target work for you. The 10-Year Target should be both CREATED well and SOLD well.
First, take a look at your existing Target and run it through these filters.
- Is it uniting? Does EVERYONE in the company see how they contribute to the Target? Do they see that they need to work as a team to get there? If your Target is only focused on your profit, or an exit, it is not very uniting. Some examples of UNITING Targets that I’ve seen:
- “with the highest-paid employees in the industry”
- “roofing the first apartments on the moon”
- “serving 3000 families”
- “we have vertically integrated our suppliers and our distributors”
- Is it inspiring? Is there a heart-felt element that appeals to the human spirit? Is it motivating? Can people get excited about working for a company that is headed in this direction? Some examples of INSPIRING Targets include:
- “we are building our thirtieth water well in Africa”
- “impacting one million lives”
- “voted the best place to work in Austin”
- “with an incentive pool of cash over $1 million, five years in a row”
- Is it a catalyst for change? If you hear your employees saying “How will we do that?” you are on the right track! A great Target should create enough pressure to entice change. In addition to the above examples, QUANTITATIVE parts of the target, like the ones below, create a catalyst for change:
- “with 100 locations nationwide”
- “50 million in revenue, operating in five states”
- “pouring 300 pools”
- “with an IPO completed”
Once you have a uniting, inspiring, and change-inducing Target, it’s time to sell it. Dan Sullivan calls it “keeping your sales hat on.” We master the art of selling to our customers, now we get to use those skills to sell to our employees. In How to Be a Great Boss, Gino Wickman and René Boer call it “creating a compelling vision.” It’s tough to sell the 10-Year Target when you don’t know the steps you need to take to get there, but its not necessary to know every step. My favorite phrase that seems to work every time is: “Well, Joe, even I’m not sure how we’ll hit that 10-Year Target, but I know that with the right team, we’ll make it happen. We’ll just take it 90 days at a time. Are you in?” For some information on taking things one step at a time in order to get a huge result, watch (and share) this video about the science behind the domino effect. Think of each domino as a 90-day period.
See if any of these examples of SELLING your Target spark ideas that will make it WORK for you!
- Create an employee task force to come up with issues the company must solve in order to get there. Get these issues on the V/TO issues list.
- Create a “secret” password, hashtag or visual that only people in the company know the meaning of. People use it whenever someone does something that will help your company reach your target. Some hashtags I like:
- #1010, #CPx10, #1000TDM. These end up in signature lines, on sticky notes and lurking in the corners of whiteboards. Plus – they’re fun and mysterious!
- Create a visual in the office for everyone to see regularly. Some fun examples I’ve seen:
- A hiker climbing a mountain: as the company gains clients, the hiker moves closer to the top.
- The classic thermometer (Although I’m sure you can get more creative!)
- Stars along the top of the wall (Each star adds to a chain of stars that winds throughout the entire office.)
- Logos of clients added to screensavers or the company website
- Talk about it! Consider creating conversations about the Target in scenarios like these:
- Before the Two-Day Annual Leadership Team planning meeting, ask the employees to submit ideas for the “next step” on the journey to your 10-Year Target.
- During your Quarterly Conversations, ask questions about how each employee thinks their current role will need to change in the coming decade.
- During the Quarterly State of the Company Address, establish cross-functional teams to come up with ideas on how to attain the Target.
- Establish a regular “Visionary Newsletter” or memo, keeping the company informed of the progress toward the famed utopia.
- Celebrate small wins toward the Target; people love to be rewarded and reinforced. Celebrating what seems like small wins on the way to knocking over a huge domino will create engagement around the next step.
- Finally, consider adding the role “Selling the VISION” to the Visionary’s box on the Accountability Chart. When one person is accountable … stuff gets done! ☺