As a young CEO – I had big dreams. That was the easy part. I could easily see the 10-30 year picture and communicate the picture clearly to my whole team. As Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined it – we knew our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). We could all describe it. We would together as a team continuously make this 10-30 year goal clearer and clearer.
We had no idea at the time how we were going to achieve this goal but we did believe we would get there. As the CEO – I wasn’t too concerned on the how but wanted to be sure we all knew where we were headed. We knew we wanted to drive the company to be the Leading Global Payment Platform for face-to-face and non-face-to-face transactions.
In those early days – we were highly execution focused. We gained a lot of respect from our major banking partners who were counting on us to solve their problem of connecting their payment processing system, to enable their business customers with Internet payment. We were software developers who took pride in delivering meaningful solutions on time.
We also knew that if we were going to achieve our BHAG, that we had to get very, very clear on our strategy to achieve this goal. In order to do this we needed to take this complex strategy and make it clear and simple by establishing our 3 Year Highly Achievable Goal (3HAG). We achieved this clarity through the process outlined below with our leadership team:
Step 1 : “Gut Out” Your 3HAG:
i. Highly available data centres in Canada and the USA.
ii. Data mapping specification that worked with all payment processors and banks.
iii. Setting-up new customers in less than 1 hour.
iv. 24 X 7 support centre
v. Well established reseller program
4. Write down a few ideas on what you believe the company should be known for in 3 years. We wanted to be known for “Making payments easy”.
Step 2: Gain Confidence in your 3HAG through a full discussion with your leadership team to create these strategic pictures:
Step 3: Create your 12 Month Execution Plan
Step 4: Create 90 Day Execution Plan
Step 5: Create 36 Month – Month over Month detailed Forecast
Step 6: Create a regular meeting/discussion rhythm to regularly review your 3HAG through the strategic picture created:
Step 7: Keep your 3HAG front and centre in every discussion through recording this information on Column 3 of Verne Harnish’s One Page Strategic Plan. Download here
As a coach of CEOs of high growth companies and as a CEO myself, I have learned the obvious: All CEOs have a strategy and more than 96% are not able to say their strategy in one sentence. They do not have any confidence in their strategy. Their strategy is complex and no one can remember it.
The goal of a 3HAG is to take a complex strategy of any company and make it clear and simple. Make it memorable so all can remember. Turn your strategy into a picture so your team can relate and be confident in order to make faster decisions daily driving toward the company’s 3 Year Highly Achievable Goal of winning the market position to grow the company. Ask yourself – whether you are CEO or not – can you say your company’s strategy in one sentence or less? Do you have confidence in your strategy? You will if you get clear on your 3HAG and start the process of a regular discussions with all your leaders and team members.
For the tools and examples mentioned above – please go to www.shannonsusko.com/resources