Did you blink and 2012 zipped right by? Don’t worry, it happened to me too. Which means it’s time to start getting ready to win in 2013! Here are the top five things you can do to prepare your organization to win in the year ahead.
1. Get clear on winning (your destination).
Specifically, get very clear on where you’re going and why. When faced with adversity or opportunity, having a crystal-clear definition of winning keeps you from going off in too many directions. It enables clear and consistent decision-making, and makes the best use of your time, talent, and resources.
When things change very quickly, as they do in today’s hyper-fast markets, it can be easy to fall into a reactive mode. A new technology enters the market… how do we respond? A competitor introduces a new product that easily tops ours…how do we respond? An innovation from a completely different industry suddenly disrupts our business model….how do we respond? Having a clear definition of winning serves as your north star from which to navigate these critical strategic decisions.
2. Stay focused on winning.
Today’s world is full of opportunity and distractions. To stay focused on the goal, start by making a list of all the major initiatives that no longer fit your definition of winning. Then shut them down! Help employees stay focused by setting clear individual goals that link directly to the organization’s key strategies for winning. Then give ongoing feedback on how they and the organization are doing. You’ll know you’re focused when every employee can answer these questions without hesitation:
- What are my top priorities?
- What are the three primary objectives I need to achieve this week/this quarter/this year?
- How will I know I have been successful after I have worked so hard this week/month/quarter?
- How will we know when we have won as a team? As an organization?
3. Determine what it looks like when you win.
With as much specificity as possible, answer the question: what will it look like when we have won?
Start by identifying the key operational and financial metrics you will have achieved. Then ask: what attitudes, beliefs, and core values will the organization be living by? What skills, knowledge, tools, technologies, and abilities will we have acquired or enhanced in order to win? What organizational structures will be in place?
What new products or services will we have brought to market? What new customers will we have acquired? Who will our #1 competitor be (and think beyond a company to market forces, regulatory factors, changing customer wants and needs…)? What will be our greatest competitive advantage and threat? How will we be known in the market? What will our brand stand for?
4. Ask the right questions.
Once you have a clear picture of what winning looks like, use “success visioning” to guide you to your destination. This involves asking a series of future, active, past tense questions that presume the target has already been achieved.
For example, suppose your definition of winning includes 20% sales growth for 2013. Ask, “When we have increased sales by 20%:
- How did we conduct outreach to our customers?
- What channels did we use?
- What products did we sell most effectively?
- What words or phrases did we use to clearly differentiate ourselves?
- Who did we build the strongest relationships with in the market?
- What systems did we use to track and support our progress?
- What testimonials did we leverage?
- How did we deepen our contacts at each client?
- How did we monitor and respond to changing market conditions?”
Remember: it’s not about if you get there, but when you get there.
5. Play to win!
Today’s markets reward boldness, so dare to take risks. Look for opportunities that offer huge upsides with minimal downside, and outline ways to mitigate or minimize the risks if the opportunities don’t pan out. At the same time, get comfortable with a certain amount of failure. When you take risks, you will fail much of the time. They key is to make it safe for people to fail, to fail fast, and to learn from your mistakes.
Shake up the status quo by developing new sources of data and new ways of looking at your customers, your market, and your industry. Most of all, get rid of the idea that what made you successful today will continue to make you successful tomorrow. Your competitors are constantly striving to get bigger, faster, and stronger. To stay ahead, your products, services, and ways of doing business must continually evolve.
If you’re not playing to win, you’re playing for second best…or worse. Where do you want to be in 2013?
Call to action: Get focused on winning – now!
image credit: successful businessman image from bigstock
Holly is the CEO of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. (www.TheHumanFactor.biz) and is a highly sought after and acclaimed speaker, business consultant, and author. Her unique approach to creating strategic agility, helping others go slow to go fast, will change your thinking.