Friday, October 21, 2016

Simple Execution Plan in One Sentence

Spoiler Alert! Here’s the one sentence plan: “For the purpose of A, we will B, by way of C.” It’s really very simple, which helps me out a lot. Basically structured along the lines of the Vision – Strategy – Tactics model, this helps me to understand the process in a way that forces me to keep it from getting too complicated. The more complicated the plan, the more likely I am to let it fade away. The simpler, the more likely I am to hold on to it. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe it’s not. Here’s how it works.

For the purpose of A

Every vision needs to contain a compelling why. Why are we doing this? Why does it matter? Why should I care and invest myself and risk enough to trust others working on this with me? A lot of times organizations start with a vision that has no clearly stated and compelling why. For more on this, check out this video by comedian, Michael Jr. As Michael says, once you know your why, it opens up all kids of options around your what. My suggestion for helping to define your why is to create a sentence that starts with, “For the purpose of…” or “Because there is a need for…” or “in order to…,” you get the idea. Maybe you can think of your own. So if you own a lawn mowing company, you may say, “Because everyone should be able to come home to a yard that makes them smile…” Forget my lack of marketing ability for a moment and just go with me. Now, you and your employees have a purpose that adds value to the lives of others, and not just a job that provides a paycheck. Let’s dig in more.

We will B

This is where you come up with your strategic plan of action. The very best way to go about this is to come up with a measurement the authors of the Four Disciplines of Execution describe as “X to Y by When?” That is, naming the current reality in measurable terms (X), naming where you want to go in measurable terms (Y), and then attaching a date of completion to it (by when?). Again, in our hypothetical lawn mowing company, this part of the sentence may be, “…we will expand our customer base of 130 current residential clients by 25 % by June 1, 2017….” Of course the action needs to be doable, and since I have never owned a lawn mowing company, I don’t know if this example is realistic or not. If you do, and I am off base, feel free to correct me. But you know your own business and likely have a grasp on what can and cannot be done within reason, even if you are stretching a bit. That’s okay. Numbers can always be adjusted to accommodate what you learn as you go. But give yourself a target at which to shoot.

Now your sentence reads, “Because everyone should be able to come home to a yard that makes them smile, we will expand our customer base of 130 current residential clients by 25 % by June 1, 2017…” Longer than a Tweet, but shorter than most project plans.

By Way of C

This is where you get tactical and ask the question, “How am I going to increase my residential clients by 25% by June 1? What are the action steps I can take to get there?” Your tactics could also have an “X to Y by When?” component to them. Our lawn mowing company may decide on something like, “…, by making direct sales contacts to representatives of all home owners associations within a 7 mile radius of our highest concentration of current customers.” Of course this is not the only tactic you might use. List the tactics you can think of and then prioritize them according to which would be most effective in helping you achieve your “We will B” statement. But let’s say the example above is the one you land on. Your sentence now reads:

“Because everyone should be able to come home to a yard that makes them smile, we will expand our customer base of 130 current residential clients by 25 % by June 1, 2017, by way of direct sales contacts to representatives of all home owners associations within a 7 mile radius of our highest concentration of current customers.” Now you have a vision, a strategy and tactic all working in concert as a simple plan in one sentence to get you where you want to go.

Your Turn


So why not try it out for yourself? And let’s make it a personal goal. Go ahead. Take 10 minutes to do this simple exercise.

For the purpose of A… (What is you’re A? Write it down.)

I will B… (What is you from “X to Y by When?” Write that down too.)

By way of C. (What action steps are you going to take, and by when? Write this down as well.)

Now, put it all together. What have you got?

If it didn’t come out great, don’t sweat it. Keep practicing and it will get easier and better as you do.

But if you do like it, or you are just feeling brave, send yours to me. I’d love to read it. Or you can just reply here. If you do, I promise to cheer you on!

Be encouraged!!



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