To grow, companies need to identify their greatest opportunities and risks — short and long term — and then what they’ll need to do or stop doing in order to take advantage of those opportunities.
Too often however, the best-laid plans of mice and CEO’s goes nowhere because they have skipped the step of gaining buy in from the people who will ultimately execute the plan. Without buy in, these people don’t have enough of a stake to sustain their motivation through the entire length of a project. As soon as it becomes too frustrating, they begin to falter, often with the same justification that adolescents offer their parents: “It wasn’t my idea.” In other words, “Don’t expect me to keep trying when things becomes hard.”
What works better in the case of your people and teenagers is to follow the adage: “People try harder at what they want to do than at what other people want them to do.” In other words, if you want people to participate in moving your company forward, find a way to include them in the decision of how to do it.
You can do that by giving your top decision makers and department heads — who will serve as representatives from their area — the following POP Quiz. In this case, POP stands for whatever your company needs to do in order to “pop” forward into a more successful future.
Give the following quiz to your top decision makers and have your department heads give it to their people. What follows are the answers provided by a senior VP of sales in a company that sells computer peripherals.
What do you see as the top three opportunities for increasing revenue to our company?
1. Increase follow up and service to our most satisfied and best customers and so exceed their expectations that they will spontaneously recommend us to their friends.
2. Be contrite, don’t make excuses, offer some restitution, correct the problem, and exceed the expectations of our disgruntled customers so that our humility and graciousness exceeds their expectations.
3. Determine who most urgently wants our services/products because they will gladly pay for them if they find out we have them.
What is your evidence that these opportunities actually exist (vs. pie in the sky, wishful thinking)?
Offered specific instances of the above being true.
What are the top three obstacles that prevent our company from taking advantage of these opportunities?
1. Poor follow up with satisfied and disgruntled clients/customers.
2. No systematic way to do the above on a regular basis. We need to make it one of our core values that we all practice.
3. Various people in management don’t practice the above with subordinates so you’re asking people to do something that isn’t practiced with them. Hypocrisy!
What do you see as three ways to save money in our company? Money that we’ll be able to redirect to taking advantage of our opportunities?
1. Get orders right the first time.
2. Follow up with customers and clients at the point when they should have started using our service/product and see if it delivers what we promised it would and what they’d suggest to make it better or other positive things we might point out to subsequent clients or customers that they have discover.
3. Track the effectiveness of marketing and PR campaigns. We need to know what, if, and how spending in those areas generates sales.
What is your evidence that doing these things will save money?
When we have practiced the above it saves money. Again, provided instances of the above.
What are the top three obstacles that prevent our company from doing these things to save money?
2. We need to see small subunits of our company embracing new ways of doing things and have it spread organically and virally, rather than trying to get the whole company to change at once.
3. People who will follow up and hold each other accountable long enough until changes become ingrained.
Most importantly (and be as specific as possible), who would need to do more of what (to take advantage of opportunities to increase revenue) and stop doing what (to save money). These should all be reasonable (i.e. make sense and be in keeping with overall mission of your company to becoming more successful and profitable) and realistic (i.e. doable). In other words, don’t suggest things that are patently unreasonable or impossible.
Identifying the specific people who will implement 1-6 above and what other things they will need to stop doing in order to implement them.
It may be best to have an independent outside consultant collect the results and distill them into a list of do’s and don’ts for the company moving forward. To facilitate this, the consultant should be given full authority by the CEO or principal decision maker to do this. Then the consultant should meet with each of the other top decision makers and department heads with the initial agenda of earning their trust and confidence.
Usable Insight: The greater the “buy in” the greater the “trying.”