Thirty top leaders from across our region. Three minutes. What should I say?
It was my job to briefly introduce the new Strategic Plan — built from the work of a blue-ribbon task force over a full year.
But what can you do in three minutes?
I decided to talk about just two things.
First, I gave them a glimpse of the big ideas behind the plan. Ideas that captured the vision and the opportunity that the task force saw.
Second, I talked about three places the plan should go — and gave them a challenge.
I told them that nine out of ten major plans fail to accomplish much. The research is clear. And those nine plans fail because the plans are put away, ignored, never used — and never become part of the heart and soul and culture of the organizations who created them.
If a plan is to be successful, it must be in three places — at least.
First, it should be put up on the wall. So that it’s visible. To send a message from leadership, This is important. To make it easy for people to see. And to refer to.
Second, the plan should be in meetings. It should be reviewed, discussed and brought into every major conversation. Again and again. Decisions and plans need to be tested against it. So that distractions and problems and the latest idea doesn’t push the plan out of focus and back onto the CEO’s shelf.
Third, the plan has to be in the hearts of the leaders. To get into their hearts, they need to know about it, hear about it, and they need to understand it. But more than that they need to believe in it — believe that it will be good for the company and for them. Believe that it can be done — if they get behind it and stay behind it. And only if they are part of making it happen. And they need to know exactly what their role is in making the Plan work and produce results.
And last, I gave this amazing group of leaders something they didn’t expect — a challenge. I told them that in the next month their job is to read the plan thoroughly, get ready for a full presentation, and then they would be asked to commit to it — by voting their approval.
This is critical, I told them — because as the leaders — if they aren’t fully committed to this plan — and are willing to put it up on the wall and talk about it in meetings — and live by it even when it’s difficult — no one else ever would.
That’s how I used my three minutes.
It’s not easy to create a great plan and make it work. To make it the one in ten that produces real results and progress. We’ll see if this group of leaders are up to the challenge.