Do you know what you want?

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Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
Albert Einstein

I was at a family gathering recently, and one of my cousins was excitedly telling me about what he wanted in his future: ‘a big house, a fancy car and to be able to travel regularly to anywhere in the world’. Conceptually this sounds lovely, and I would suggest many of us feel the same way.

What was interesting though, was that when I started questioning him on how he was going to get his big house, fancy car and enough money to travel anywhere, he looked at me as if I’d had a little too much of the family’s home-made vino!

Ok, I admit I was messing with his mind a little, but it got me thinking – was asking him to be clear on his strategy a bad thing? After all, many of us have this same life plan, but not all see it materialise.

This also happens in business. Many years back I remember sitting across the desk from my CEO discussing our sales and innovation strategy. There were a number of opportunities available, and I could see him getting excited about the possibilities. ‘I want you to do all of them – immediately!’  he said.

Conceptually it was wonderful, but with trepidation I said, ‘If we only have budget and resources for one project at a time – which do you want me to start first?’ My CEO looked at me much like my cousin did when I asked him about being specific. ‘I don’t know, make it work!’

I see many professionals overwhelmed by the sheer mass of information and instruction thrown at them daily. But success seems to come to those who have the ability to simplify a difficult concept, and effectively implement, or take it to their wider team or business to activate.

So, if you’re wondering why things aren’t quite on track, your sales are waning or your people are disengaged, maybe it’s because you need you to be more specific. When you’re crafting your strategy:

  • Have laser focus on the messages and insights you’re selling
  • Make your plan simple, compelling, and easy to implement
  • Don’t leave it up to others to guess what your key focus is!