Observations on 100 years: The Power of Vision

Last Monday, we celebrated the birthday of one of my favorite Americans, Martin Luther King, Jr.  Fifty years later, his “I have a dream speech” continues to inspire us toward a better future, to become a better country.

As leaders, we should take note: vision is powerful, one of the most powerful tools in our leadership tool belt.  

This week we’re exploring five lessons from PCI ‘s 100 years which have allowed us to survive and thrive.

Lesson #4: The power of vision and goal setting

I’m a big fan of the Entrepreneurial Operating System or EOS which PCI uses as our business “operating system.” One of the many strengths of the EOS framework is around vision and goal setting.  Each EOS company defines four levels of objectives:  

10-year target:  Think BHAG, what Good to Great author Jim Collins calls a “big, hairy audacious goal.”  The 10-year target is an inspiring, larger than life, long-term goal.  For some of us, this type of thinking is inspiring and fun.  For others, it’s difficult to think that far into the future.  Stay with it!  There are big benefits to putting forth a compelling long-term vision.  As Paulo Coelho tells us, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  

The question to ask: What’s possible?  Looking into the future, what do you and your team find exciting?  Motivating?  We give ourselves the license to dream.  Be bold.  The 10-year target is not a detailed plan.  It’s a destination.  

EOS coach Dan Zawacki tells us: “Unless the leadership team is focused on a North Star, it will forever be stuck in solving the problem of the day. Instead, organizations need to create a vision of where they want to be in 10 years and it must become the number one goal of the organization.”

Dan suggests (1) we create a vision everyone in the organization (not just the leadership team) can feel, see and taste: “A bold vision will inspire your team to climb mountains and push through difficult times.”  And, (2) “Keep it simple. One or two sentences.”  

At PCI, our 10-Year Target is earn a spot on Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in the world.

3-Year Picture:  One of the things I love most about EOS is the 3-year picture.  Many business models jump from a BHAG to annual goals.  The 3-year picture is a powerful, “in between” stage.  Here, we are encouraged to stretch our thinking, to push to the very edge of what is possible in the next 36 months.  

As a leadership team, we ask and discuss: if we executed at a very high level, what could we accomplish in the next three years?  Three years out, what is our target revenue, profit, and other key, high level metrics for our organization?

Next, as a team, we brainstorm 10 to 20 succinct bullets about what we would like to happen, creating a snapshot of what our business will look like in three years.  The bullets may include the number and quality of people, new products, clients mix, technology needs, new systems, new processes, and resources required.  

This “picture” of what is possible will be tremendously motivating.  Having everyone on the same page, working toward common objectives which are clearly understood, provides us with a compelling plan for success.

This year, at our annual EOS planning meeting, our leadership team put forward a bold objective to increase revenue from $54 million in 2020 to $100 million in 2023.  This goal is an incredibly ambitious one for us, right on the very edge of what might be possible.  

And that’s the point.  As soon as we articulated it, the energy on our Zoom call changed.  Gulp.  Achieving this type of growth requires new thinking.  New approaches.  New people.  New systems.

Time to get started!

1-year Plan: One of the other benefits of the 3-Year Picture is it sets up our 1-Year Plan, which includes our target revenue, profit, other key, high level metrics, and our 3-7 “Boulders” or key goals for the year.  Unlike the 10-Year Target and the 3-Year Picture, we are not stretching.  The 1-Year Plan is a prediction: this is what will happen this year.  This is how we will measure ourselves.  As a leadership team, we are accountable for making this plan a reality.

Quarterly Rocks: Rocks are one of the three to seven most important things you must get done in the next 90 days.

Together, the 10-Year Target, 3-Year Picture, 1-Year Plan, and quarterly rocks create a clear picture of what we want to achieve.  Doing this work is one of our most important responsibilities as leaders.  The process of discussing, deciding, and sharing this integrated vision dramatically increases the likelihood of making it a reality.

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Reflection:  Analyze my current goal-setting framework vs. the EOS model.  Look for any gaps.

Action: Discuss our current goal-setting framework with a colleague or my team.  Identify one action we could make to improve what we are currently doing.

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