and Improving Results
might seem odd to say that visualization is a business tool but indeed
it is. where the ball will be. Fighter pilots visualize. Before we get
into the jet we visualize our mission. In fact, most of us like to set
aside some time for visualization and “chair fly” the mission.
That is, sit in a chair, visualize our hands on the flight controls,
visualize our jets coming in towards the target, visualize how we’ll
make our radio calls, the enemy threats, countermeasures, our
formation, the terrain and how we’re going to get the heck out of
there when we’re through.
the power of visualization. We see our mission in our mind’s eye,
and it starts to become second nature. But guess what? Visualization
is just one of the many by-products of a far more powerful tool called
a plan. That’s right, a plan – who is going to do what, when and
where. There is nothing
without a plan. You can’t play a football game without a plan. You
can’t run a play without a plan. And
I can’t fly a mission until I know where I’m going, what
the weather will be, what my target is, how many are on my team, what
each of us will be doing, what the enemy might throw at me…well, you
get my point: Successful missions always
begin with a plan. Planning
allows you to project your goals forward in time and space. A plan is
how you intend to accomplish something, to achieve something, to
attain some goal. At Afterburner we have a process for developing a
plan that gets us back alive, we call it The Six Steps to Mission
Step Number One: Determine the Mission
mission objective is something you want to do in today’s mission.
Close a sale with a specific account. A mission objective meets four
it has to be clear. State it in simple but direct language. If your
people don’t know what you mean—or worse, if your words are
subject to differing interpretations—you’re in trouble, and that
means the mission is in trouble, too.
the objective must be measurable on some quantifiable scale so you can
ultimately determine whether it was successful.
it must be achievable. That doesn’t mean it has to be easy. Tough
missions are worthy challenges, but it does have to be within the
realm of possibility. If you’re going to put people into motion,
nothing degrades their abilities, motivation, energy, or enthusiasm
faster than to give them an impossible task.
a mission objective must support the overall future picture of the
organization so your team knows the importance of the mission
objective and can rally behind it.
Step Number Two: Identify the Threats:
want to know everything about what can stand between you and
accomplishing your objective. For me and my mission, I know that a
very tough fighter pilot stands between me and my mission objective.
Somewhere out there is a very fast and very capable pilot at the
controls and he doesn’t want me to blow up his site. So I want to
know everything I can about this guy. I want to know what he eats,
what car he drives, which hand he uses to comb his hair and how he
brushes his teeth. What could undermine your next sales call? Do you
know who your counterpart is and what their situation is? What is
their motivation? What deal have they offered your client? What new
product feature is better than yours? How does the company stack up
against yours? Terms? Shipping policies? Anything that could beat you
out for the sale.
we look for internal threats. How’s
the communication inside your company? How good is that engineer
coming with you on the trip? Can you count on your travel department
(or agent) to get you there on time? Does finance stay competitive
with terms? An untrained
teammate or a communication breakdown can threaten success just as
much as any external factor.
Step Number Three: Identify The Available
you’ve identified your threats, what resources do you have to deal
with them? These resources might be people, money, systems,
technologies, products, clients, terms, services, or the unique skills
of someone on your team. How do your assets stack up against your
threats? Do you need to take an AV guy with you because you’re rusty
on PowerPoint? Do it.
forget assets outside your immediate circle of influence. Do you know
someone that knows the buyer? Have you met the owner of the restaurant
that might give you a better table when you’re entertaining a
client? Look at everything and everyone as a potential asset and think
about how they might help.
Step Number Four: Lessons Learned:
has experiences; someone has been there before. Step Four is to tap
into those experiences and apply the lessons that best fit your
mission. Has another salesperson been to this buyer? Does he or she
know the buyer’s trigger points? Has someone been to the client’s
office before? Is the parking lot five blocks away? One of my toughest
customers liked silence. Had I not known I would have nervously filled
the silence with chatter. Fortunately, I was forewarned and I sweated
through his long moments of silence. I got the contract.
Step Number Five: Develop Courses Of
this point you and your team should be armed with a mission objective,
know the threats, have identified the available resources, and have
incorporated lessons learned. Now you must develop a menu of potential
courses of action. How am I going to attack the target? To answer
that, break into small groups and brainstorm ideas.
this stage, you want creativity and ideas, and the more the better.
Breaking up into small groups gives you just that. You’ll pick your
final course of action from the ideas generated by these groups.
bring the groups together and analyze and finalize your plan. This
requires good facilitation and the ability to put ideas visually in
front of the group, usually with white boards. Each team lays out
their tactics; everyone walks through them and picks them apart. The
strongest tactics will become apparent; the fit will survive. Analyze
and finalize. Who does what, when?
Step Number Six: Plan for Contingencies:
will spend up to fifty percent of your time in the planning process on
step number six. It’s time to plan for all of the what-ifs? What if
the flight is delayed? What if your PowerPoint presentation locks up?
What if the facilitator for your meeting resigned over the weekend?
for contingencies must be detailed. Start by breaking down your
mission into its smallest components, and then rank those components
on the basis of their importance. What’s going to stop you dead in
the water? What one component is the must-have component for the show
to go on? Then work out what your solutions will be.
Planning for the Future:
is a great way to prepare for a mission but nothing starts until you
have a plan. Planning
provides a disciplined framework for approaching problems. It gives
you courses of actions, planned response to contingencies, and
resources to help you succeed. Use these six steps in your planning
process and every mission in your business can be a successful one.
Read other articles and learn more about
Jim “Murph” Murphy.
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