Some of you have heard me say I’m not sure I believe in long-range plans anymore.
Let me explain. What I don’t believe in is the arduous process that so many teams and companies have entered into, especially at this time of year.
They create binders that chart every “i” they are going to dot and every “t” they are going to cross in the next ten years. So many places have entered into this process and then those binders sit on a shelf and collect dust. I don’t believe in that.
What I do believe in is the exercise of creating long-term visions and short-term plans.
To align your people, your leadership team, your spouse, your family, or the board of your organization around a vision (where you’re heading) in the next one, three and five years, is powerful. It is big picture. It is the 30,000-foot-view of the landscape where you hope to travel. And it is okay that not every “i” is dotted yet or “t” crossed because, the truth be told, you don’t know what’s going to happen. And it is perfectly okay to admit it.
The world is changing so quickly that it is impossible for you to know every element of what will emerge on the path ahead. There will be things that are out of sight now that will appear later. There will be obstacles. There will be detours. And yes, there will be surprises and successes, too.
The exercise to visualize for the direction you’re heading is critical. It is life-giving. If it is a compelling vision, it will align and energize people.
From the long-term vision comes the short-term plan. I do an exercise with many clients that I call the Three-Month Action Plan. It helps them boil their long-term vision into shorter, actionable moves. It helps them get clear on their own personal mission that will guide their performance for the next three months. It’s their mantra, their focus for who they are striving to be.
We are living in the most distracted times in the history of our world. The Three-Month Action Plan exercise helps you concentrate on your top five priorities. I know we often want to jump from Point A to Point Z in one giant leap, but that never happens. We must identify what success with our top priorities will look like at the three-month mark.
Precisely, what are the first actions necessary to stimulate progress this week, this month, next month, and month three? What’s the objective? What’s the message? Who owns it? When will the action be put into place?
One action at a time, we set the temperature and our once cloudy vision is brought into existence. The culture begins to shift. The temperature in the room changes. Something is different, real. The once-distant light now is visible and shines brightly to everyone around us. It communicates that change is not only possible, it is happening. Now.
Jason V. Barger is a globally celebrated keynote speaker, leadership coach and author of Thermostat Cultures, Step Back from the Baggage Claim and ReMember. He is founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, a Columbus-based company that works with businesses and organizations worldwide. Connect via email at jason@JasonVBarger.com or on social media at @JasonVBarger.
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