If you ask a business owner and each of his or her leadership members the vision for their organization, they will likely each provide an answer though the answers may not be consistent. Imagine if you are an employee of this organization receiving different concepts of the vision for the business depending on which leadership team member with whom you speak. It can be confusing and sometimes hold you back from giving your all for the organization (since you don’t know which way the organization is really going).
As a Professional Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) Implementer™, I help business owners and their leadership teams form a coherent Vision for their business by facilitating them to answer these eight questions:
- What are your Core Values?
- What is your Core Focus™?
- What is your 10-Year Target™?
- What is your Marketing Strategy?
- What is your 3-Year Picture?
- What is your 1-Year Plan?
- What are your Quarterly Rocks?
- What are your Issues?
We use a tool called the Vision/Traction Organizer™ (V/TO) to help business owners and their leadership teams answer these eight questions:
Core values are those beliefs and behaviors that are grounded in the DNA of the business. Core values often are rooted in the founder’s deep beliefs. They define your culture, that is who you are and what you stand for. They help you attract people who fit your culture and repel those who do not.
Core Focus answers two questions: 1. Why does your organization exist? 2. What is your business’ niche?
To answer question #1, business owners and their leadership teams need to clearly define their organizations’ purpose, cause, or passion¹. This goes beyond the type of business the organization; it is the “why” the organization exists.
To answer question #2, business owners and their leadership teams need to define their true niche. What is it that you can do better than anyone else? This is important so that you stay focused on leveraging your collective sweet spot and avoid distractions that could dilute your focus on what you do best.
The 10-Year Target is one overreaching goal for the business to be attained somewhere between 5 and 30 years from the present. Once clearly articulated, it provides a clear long-term direction for everyone in the business.
The business’ ideal marketing strategy includes these four elements:
- Target Market: These are the companies or individuals who fit the psychographic, geographic, and demographic profile of your ideal customer. The entire marketing strategy should be targeted toward these prospective clients.
- Three Uniques: These are the three things your business does very well that in combination set it apart from your competition
- Proven Process: This is a one-page document illustrating the three to seven steps that your business takes with your clients from initial engagement through completed sale or delivery of services. This is a powerful tool that can help your sales team differentiate themselves from your competitors
- Guarantee: This is a promise that will help overcome an unease a prospective client might have about doing business with you.
Developing a 3-Year Picture is the first step in driving your Core Values, Core Focus, 10-Year Target, and Marketing Strategy to ground, making them real, and getting results. This is a simplified approach to strategic planning.
First pick a future date approximately three years away (either calendar or fiscal year end). Project the revenue that you see at the end of that year that supports your journey to your business’ 10-Year Target. Then project the profit for that year. Then add one measurable that all your employees can relate to. This could be the number of units produced, the number of clients or customers, number of stores, etc.
Second, write down 5 to 15 bullet points of what your business will look like on that date. This should include the number of employees and things that your leadership team and you can clearly see in your mind’s eye. These could include number of products produced or services provided, number of clients, number of locations, completion of implementation of a new software system, addition of new equipment, expansion of your facility, etc.
Finally, make sure that your entire leadership team and you can clearly see the 3-Year Picture. Close your eyes and picture it. Make sure that everyone can see it, everyone wants it, and everyone believes in it. When this happens and is then shared with all the employees, the odds of achieving the 3-Year Picture are greatly increased.
The other advantage of creating a clear 3-Year Picture is that it sets you up for productive 1-Year Planning.
Completing the 1-Year Plan is the next step in driving your Vision to ground. Again, pick a date (end of calendar or fiscal year) about one year away. Project the revenue and profit for that year and number for the key measurable, which will be the same as the key measurable upon which your leadership team and you decided for the 3-Year Picture. These numbers should support your 3-Year Picture and 10-Year Target.
Next, prepare three to seven goals that will drive the business forward towards its 3-Year Picture and 10-Year Target. These goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). It is important to limit the number of goals to no more than seven, preferably closer to three. Less is more…focus is key.
Quarterly Rocks are the three to seven most important items that the leadership team needs to complete in the next 90 days, moving the business forward to achieving its one-year goals. The term “Rocks” was used by Verne Harnish² in his book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. Verne picked up the term Rocks from an analogy in Stephen Covey’s book First Things First. Imagine a glass cylinder on a table and next to it are rocks, pebbles, sand, and a glass of water. The rocks represent your most important priorities, the pebbles are your day-to-day responsibilities, the sand represent daily interruptions, and the water is everything else. If, like many people, you first put the water in the cylinder, then add the sand, then the pebbles, and finally the rocks, you likely will not be able to fit the rocks in the cylinder. However, if you start with the rocks first, then follow with the pebbles (which sink in between the rocks), add the sand, and finish with adding the water, you likely will get everything in the cylinder.
You need to focus on your top priorities, your Rocks, first over the next 90 days. Everything else will then fall into place. This will provide you the traction and execution you need to ensure that your one-year goals stay on track and you are driving to your 3-Year Picture and 10-Year Target every quarter.
As with your annual goals, when choosing your quarterly business rocks, it is important to limit the number then no more than seven and preferably closer to three. Again, less is more and focus is key.
It is normal for your business to have issues. Some of these can inhibit your ability to achieve your Vision if they are not effectively resolved.
The first step is to create a culture in your business where every employee is comfortable raising issues and every issue is captured in writing. This is called the Issues List.
Your leadership team and you then need to become proficient at prioritizing these issues, solving them one at a time, and making them go away forever. With EOS, we use a process called IDS™ to solve issues once and for all.
Once your leadership team and you have become proficient at solving your issues, then you need to teach the next level of your employees how to prioritize and solve their issues using IDS at their level and continue to do this until you reach every level of your organization.
Now that your team and you have created a coherent Vision for your business and you have shared it with all your employees, you will be amazed how much progress you will gain when everyone is rowing in the same direction.
If any of this resonates with you or would be of value to someone you know, please reach out to Bill Stratton, Professional EOS Implementer, at Bill@TractionWithELA.com, www.TractionWithELA.com/contact, or 717-495-1429.
Acknowledgments and References
All referenced trademarks are the property of EOS Worldwide.
¹Traction by Gino Wickman, pp 46-52
²Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, by Verne Harnish, p 38