So, what should you do this week?

Q: What should I do the first week of the new year?
A: Think about what you want the last week of the year to look like.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”

– Yogi Berra

A few years ago, I was a guest speaker for a group of CEOs during an event in the first week of January. Before I began my program, the CEOs shared their goals for the coming year. Of the twenty CEOs present, about seven of them said “increase sales by 20%.” I decided to use this as a springboard to start my workshop, so I began I asked those seven CEOs to tell me more about that 20% increase.

The first CEO described a new product his company was launching that could increase his company’s sales by 20%. Another CEO described an expansion into a new geographic market. One of them said he could achieve the entire 20% increase just by getting his existing customers to buy more; any new customers would be “gravy.” A fourth CEO described a combination of opportunities, including price increases, adding service contracts to his product sales and better conversion rates on new business efforts. The remaining CEOs also described unique ways to arrive at 20% increases.

Success is not a generic term. Even something that seems specific, such as “increase sales by 20%” can have many different meanings.

So why does this matter?

Because the actions each of these CEOs needed to take to reach their goals were highly dependent on the specific nature of those goals. Increasing sales from existing customers requires completely different actions than expanding into a new geographic market or supporting a new product.

Create a picture of success for 2011

Here’s what I suggest you do, today: Imagine it is December 31, 2011, and you are breaking open a bottle of champagne with your team to celebrate an incredible year. What is it you will be celebrating? Describe this “picture of success” in detail!

There are an infinite number of potential outcomes for your company in 2011. If you’re not sure which of those outcomes you want to achieve, how can you possibly know what to do today, on January 4, 2011? (Or, for that matter, on any other day during 2011.)

By defining which of those infinite outcomes you most want to achieve, you will be much better able to do the right things today, tomorrow, next week and throughout the entire year.

This is your 2011 plan

So how does defining your picture of success for 2011 help you determine how to do the right things? Here are the steps:

  1. Create your picture of success, as described above, by describing what you will be celebrating on December 31, 2011. Think of areas of untapped potential in you company, and imagine that you have unleashed that potential during the year (I like to call this potential “latent profit”).
  2. Next, describe what your customers need to do to help you realize your 2011 goals. Yes, I said your customers, not your team. It is your customers’ actions that create your success– when those customers do things such as buy your products, rave to their friends, pay their bills, etc.
  3. Then, describe what you and your team need to do to encourage your customers to act in the ways that fuel your success. What kind of customer experience do you need to create? What stories do you need to communicate? How can you build “We” Relationships with those customers?

I’ve written in more detail in the past about this process, and I’ve provided links on the right if you’d like to read further. But, for now, consider these steps as simply as I’ve described them:1. What kind of success do you hope to achieve? 2. What do you want customers to do to help achieve that success? 3. What do you need to do to motivate your customers to do those things?

This is the most important planning you need to do for 2011… everything else comes from this. Don’t waste a minute… make your 2011 plan now!

Steve Yastrow

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Posted in Customer Encounters, Invent Your Future, Newsletters, We relationships
One comment on “So, what should you do this week?
  1. Thanks Steve, the sequence of your steps is excellent.

    Here’s my experience … I’m in startup stage and, interestingly, I completed my 2011 plan just hours before I read your post. My Dec 31 goal was driven by what I thought I might be able to deliver during the year (given constraints, etc), not based on “how much” customers might want to buy from me.

    Any thoughts on startups using the sequence you suggested?

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