Take Time to Aim

By Susan Schilke, February 1, 2016

“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” ― Robert H. Schuller

In the TeamStrength CEO meetings, it’s ‘letter season.’  Members use a process to paint a vision of their year celebrating the achievements their company will make – crafting this in a future-dated letter and writing as if the goals have already been accomplished.  Writing the letter isn’t easy, but taking the time to visualize is priceless.  It’s harnessing the power of taking aim!

The most successful individuals and organizations take aim to reach new levels of success.  And the first step in that process is taking time to aim.  Writing letters with their vision for the year requires an investment of time by each TeamStrength CEO & Key Executive.  And the presentation to the group for feedback adds a valuable layer of insights and ideas to make the plan more effective.  It’s a high-impact addition to an effective corporate planning process.

Companies struggle to invest enough time in taking aim.  In a Harvard Business Review survey, less than 5% of executives said their company had a rigorous and disciplined process for focusing the top management’s time on the most important issues.  The two biggest issues are leadership teams not spending enough time together, and using the time they do spend for operational and tactical issues versus strategy.

Leadership teams need focused time to address strategy – discussions about the customers, the market, product and service offerings, new opportunities, competitive threats, growth and key metrics.  Teams need to take time to address big-picture strategic questions, gather and present data, collaborate and debate, and ultimately make decisions and plans based on agreed-upon goals.  This takes time – and time specifically dedicated to strategy.

Early in the year, many companies are holding strategic planning sessions – and that’s a great start – but taking time to aim is a continuous process.  Scheduled and ad-hoc meetings need to continue throughout the year to make decisions, address new strategic issues, and adjust course on existing goals.

Leaders throughout the company – department heads and managers at every level – need to take time to align their goals with the overall corporate goals, and make plans to address the opportunities for improvement and growth within their result area.  None of this happens without an investment of time.

Time is a finite resource, and the best leaders make the most of their limited hours with careful investment in taking time to aim.  How can you apply this strategy to make your company more successful?  Separate strategic discussions from operational and tactical ones, gather the right people and right information, and focus on discussions that generate decisions and action plans.

To find more time for taking aim, start with a ‘to don’t’ list and clear some things from your calendar – what’s taking a lot of your time but not generating results?  What are you handling that you could delegate?

Take time to aim.  There is no shortcut to investing in making the best strategic decisions. Look for more on how to spend that time in upcoming months as we continue to focus our resources on helping TeamStrength member companies Take Aim!

“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”— Paul “Bear” Bryant