The saying goes, “An unaimed arrow never misses.” As I travel the country, I find one consistent theme: most executives, managers, and employees are “unaimed,” meaning they don’t know their company’s Vital Goals or how they contribute to those goals. How do I know this? I ask. I’ve asked hundreds of executives, managers, and frontline employees and have yet to find one company where I get a consistent answer at the top, let alone from the executive team to the front line.
When employees don’t have a specific course of action, they will set their own course, with the best intentions. But when a company has tens, hundreds, or thousands of employees setting their own course, that is not a blueprint for success; that is a blueprint for disaster.
Advantage Principle: Achieve Business Success by Having More People Doing the Most Important Things More Often.
It is only through planning that you can determine and achieve your Vital Goals and know whether you’re doing the right things for the right reasons at the right time. In business, companies should always work to create or enhance their market advantage. I believe that if your company is more effective than your competition at strategic planning & execution, your company will have the Ultimate Competitive Edge. This may be the single most important controllable aspect to both your personal and your business life.
Advantage Principle: Vital Goals are results necessary to the existence, continuance, and wellbeing of something indispensable–like your company’s profitable growth and survival–and worthy of your best efforts.
The problem for most companies is that they don’t have a blueprint for developing and executing a strategic growth plan. This makes their employees aimless. By combining straightforward planning and execution strategies with daily hard work and routines, my new book–The Growth Advantage–contains three sections that help companies crack open the business secrets that show companies how to achieve that dream of steady, predictable growth:
1) Planning Advantage–Where Effective Planning Helps Companies Predict Their Future
- Creating a deliberate Culture Advantage that produces sustained results is a key element of planning and creating the Ultimate Competitive Edge. All cultures have some positives. The behaviors and values that are already displayed by the Culture Fit Employees, are what you would like all employees to emulate. These behaviors are Culture Builders, and must align with your company’s purpose, brand, strategy, and objectives, and are defined by an explicit set of core values. Companies that decide who they want to be, have a clear vision, and build intentional cultures will always have an advantage over their competitors.
- Everything starts with having a well-designed plan. Companies that define long-term Vital Goals, make goals personal, break goals into daily and weekly behaviors and identify key metrics will have a Planning Advantage. Although we typically plan in timeframes of one year, five years, or even longer, we need to make sure we’re breaking the activities (behaviors and results) and everything that contributes to that plan into the shortest timeframes possible (days and weeks). If contributing employees on your team clearly understand what behavior needs to be accomplished every day and week, then as long as they’re held accountable to those Predictive Behavior goals, the quarterly, annual, and five-year goals will be achieved–like magic.
2) Execution Advantage–Where Vision Is Turned Into Reality
An Execution Advantage shows companies how to develop processes that gives their employees, and accordingly their company, the best chance for success. There are four elements of the Execution Advantage:
- Talent Advantage–Do you have enough quality talent to accomplish your objectives and are you staffed for planned growth?
- Training Advantage–Does your team have the proper training and reinforcement to provide them with the needed knowledge and abilities?
- Motivation Advantage–Is your team motivated to complete their Predictive Behaviors and model Core Values on a consistent basis?
- Accountability Advantage–Does your company have an accountability culture that delivers results?
3) Company Advantage–Business Happens Where Opportunity & Advantage Intersect
A Company Advantage helps companies clarify their market opportunity and fine-tune their brand advantage, so they know their sweet spot for growth. There are three elements that are critical to building a Company Advantage:
- Market Advantage–Clearly defining your company’s product and market focus (what are you selling to whom, where, and why).
- Competitive Advantage–Creating a Value Advantage and Competitive Advantage that is meaningful to your identified market and customer (why your product or service and why your company vs. the competition).
- Brand Advantage–Packaging and communicating your Company Advantage in a message that effectively attracts and retains target customers (being known for what you know).
Let’s face it: Sustained business growth doesn’t just happen. Growth must be planned for and executed, cultivated from a strategic standpoint, then applied tactically at the frontline, led by the right people, and focused on the right objectives. Otherwise, optimum growth doesn’t happen. Ever. When a company clearly knows where it wants to go and fully understands the behavior and resources required to get there, that’s how to build a Growth Advantage. This business strategy is a process of breaking long-term, strategic goals into accountable, daily actions and building an advantage that helps people and companies predict and control their futures.
Written by Bob Lisser.
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