Chapter 64 – Many things are desirable. Few things are feasible, given that time, money, expertise and the will to conclude are usually in short supply. So where should the CEO hang his target? That to which he aspires, his dream and vision for his enterprise?
The world of positive thought is well debunked by Barbara Ehrenreich in Smile or Die. The overhang of the ridiculous mesmerisation of goals by ‘positive thinking’ is that goals become undoable, unreachable and sometimes pure fantasy.
The central tenet of Shinto is finding the way. It is not in setting goals, but in finding the correct way of doing things that will lead down a road. Where the score may be taken from time to time. Targeting a 14% return on investment growth per annum is surely the result of doing things differently. Let’s take the cart and put it behind the horse. Reducing the spread of activities, selling more of our best product via a structured referral method. These are the actions connoting the way. You will need a philosophy, a vision to back it up.
Perhaps it echoes the golfer’s aim to play perfect golf. It may be to unlock the efficiencies, through your people. Somehow, you need to find the lantern to illuminate the path that you will trample in the tall grass. This will guide you to act in the way and these steps by the steed will pull the cart along. Why end up at 15%? A lot more is possible if the cart is pulled by a horse that knows the road, guided by a lantern holder who knows the right direction.
It is, of course, true that many – if not most – people are decidedly more inspired by goals than by ways. So you need to hang a pointer on a tree, to visibly point the direction to destinations along the way. Let’s reach our goal of 15 debtors’ days. Let’s get to a rate of closing 75% of sales proposals. Get 15 prospects per week per person. These goals can be repeated by more people. The bigger prize of a rewarding career in a successful company is an accumulation of these small visions and achievements.
Articulate your vision incessantly. The walls have ears. The people too. They must become familiar with your vision before they can trust it. Only after you have won their trust will they think of acceptance and change.
Once it becomes our vision, it may become invincible. Careful here, you do not want to mould them to be your clones, in what Adam Smith called a Man of Systems. Your chessmen are diverse and fulfil their roles in their own way. It where you want to head to that’s important.
To create a vision, contrast it with reality. This will define your problem! The vision is the solving of the problem. People can relate to this better than nonsense such as a mantra which goes: to be the best in everything we touch.
Thus our vision can be moulded, tempered, changed, improved. It is supported by every player with his measurable and somewhat-stretched contribution target. Every step can be taken in tandem, like the rhythm of a tug-of-war team. Making minimal effort to secure maximum results, without distraction. If they get this right, they are on their way.
The Unconventional CEO offers succinct, compelling advice from one successful CEO Mario Pretorius, to you The Cape Messenger reader.
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