Saturday, June 9, 2007

How To Paint a Future Picture

How do you paint a clear, high-resolution, and easily communicated big picture of how you want the future to be? Use 12 key descriptors to create a detailed picture. In Flawless Execution: Use the Techniques and Systems of America's Fighter Pilots to Perform at Your Peak and Win the Battles of the Business World, James D. Murphey writes about how to paint a clear picture that you can communicate up and down the stack.

12-Point Future Picture
Murphey outlines the 12 points that clarify a future picture:

  • Financial Position. Describe your company's financial position as you would like to be in a reasonable amount of time, say three to five years. Will you measure internal rate of return (IRR), earnings, revenue, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization0, or what?
  • Market Position. Describe your market position. Will you be a leader or a follower? Are you a fringe segment? Elaborate.
  • Business Areas. What business(es) do you intend to be in?
  • Innovation. Will you innovate or use off-the-shelf technology? Is R&D part of your future?
  • Insider Perception. What is the insider view of the company? How do the various stakeholders view the company? Is it a good place to work, a good investment? Elaborate.
  • Outsider Perception. What should the outsider perception be? A growing company, profitable, customer-oriented? Professional, competent?
  • Workforce Characteristics. What are the features of your workforce? What are their skills, special talents?
  • Brand: Yes or No. Are you going to have a branded product or a commodity product? Will you be an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to another company?
  • Corporate Culture. What is your vision of your corporate culture? Are you entrepreneurial with a minimum of bureaucratic layers? Are you productivity driven like Dell Computer?
  • Corporate citizenship. What is your vision of corporate citizenship? Will you make a contribution to the quality of life in your communities? Why?
  • Ownership. Will your company be public, private, or have an employee stock plan?
  • Incentive Philosophy. What will your incentive plans be based on? Straight pay, shared risk, rewards based on results?

Key Take Aways
Well, that's certainly high-resolution! When I need to share a vision with others, I do a quick self-check against this list. While I usually don't have all the answers, it does give me a map of where I need to get more clarity.