Strategy – Start From the End

by | Jun 8, 2014

There are many articulate definitions for the word “strategy,” however; its basic meaning is “a plan that you have for getting from point A to point B.”  But before we talk about the plan that we make for getting from point A to point b, we need to understand a few things about point A and point B.  We won’t get fancy here.  We’ll call point A the “beginning” and point B the “destination.”  Pretty simple, right?  Well, not exactly.  Many of the problems that we encounter with our strategic plans is that we don’t fully understand our point A and our point B.

In the article that I recently read Kaihan Krippendorff talked about reverse engineering your strategy.  Basically writing your strategy in reverse, from the place where you are trying to go to the place where you are starting from.  Of course, when you think about this, it makes perfect since.  So, to begin our dialogue about strategy, we must talk about the destination.

Each moment we experience is a destination to a journey that we began earlier.  You being where you are at this moment is the result of a strategic plan that you put into place before this very moment.  But just deciding that you would be where you are right now didn’t make it happen.  You had to take some inspired actions in order to actually bring yourself to this very moment, this destination.

This moment of destination is also a beginning to a future point of destination.  What you are doing in this very moment is the beginning of a journey that will lead you to a particular destination.

Here are my questions to you.  Where are you going? When will you get there? Where do you want to be in 20, 15, 10 or 5 years from now?  How does your destination look, how does it make you feel?  Can you describe your perfect day?  What are you doing?  How are you spending your time?  Who are you spending your time with?  Do you know what you want?

Unfortunately, many of us have not taken the time to really understand where we want to go.  We may say that we know what we want out of life but when we are pressed to describe or articulate where we are really going, many of us can’t.  For many of us, we don’t know what the destination looks like.  We don’t know what we really want.

What we usual understand is what we don’t want.  We may not know what our destination looks like but we know that it looks different than where we are now.  That may seem like a good place to start but it is not as useful as you may think.  We must understand and focus on what we want, not what we don’t want.

So, I ask you again, what do you want and when do you want it?  I would like for you to take  a moment and write down (or respond in the comment area) where you want to be in 3 years from today in these 3 areas:  health, finances and relationships.

Here are the specific questions that I want you to answer:

  • How much do you weigh or what size do you wear?
  • How much is bank account today?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What is your relationship status?

Now that we understand a little more clearly about our destination, I have one more question to ask, and it is a big one. Why?  Why must you reach this destination?  If you don’t have an answer, and I mean a really good answer for this, the obstacles that you may encounter on the journey that we have yet to talk about, will stop you from reaching your destination.  Think about it.  Many of the things we have accomplished in our lives were things that we wanted and we knew why we wanted it.  That “why” was the driving passion that made many people finish school, lose weight, or change environments.  The “why” keep us driven and determined that no matter what, come hell or high water, we would persevere.

So, I want you to write the “why” for each of the items you have listed. If you can’t think of the why right away, that’s ok.  But make sure that you find your “why” soon.  If you don’t have a strong “why”, a stronger “why not” will prevail.  “Why not” just let that go.  “Why not” just forget it.  It’s too hard, it takes too much time and it’s too expensive.  “Why not” just remain where you are.

Let talk about point A.  It’s now.  You are where you are.  Don’t judge it, don’t over or underestimate it.  It simply is what it is.  You must understand where you are, but do not get caught up in it.  Remember this one thing, you can get to anywhere you want to get to from here.

Think about a GPS system.  The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.

If you have a fully functional GPS system, you can get to any location from a given starting point.  You don’t have to know where you are.  That’s the beauty of a GPS.  You can be “lost” but if you can get a signal, you can get directions to the destination.

So, we have talked about the Point B, the destination.  We have talked about the point A, your starting point.  Now, let’s talk about the journey, and the strategy that you use to get from point A to point B.

In the article, Krippendorff’s system for developing your strategy is pretty simple.  Decide where you are going.  Define 1 to 3 metrics and their values.  The author calls these your BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).

Then decide what the next chapter (12-18 months) will look like.  What must you achieve over the next year to year and a half to be on track for your 3-year goals.

Next, determine the “plot actions” that must occur over the next 12-18 months.  What actions must be completed in order to reach your desired chapter close? As the author states, “Being clear on what these are allows you to quickly decide what matters and what does not. If you find yourself investing time in something that does not matter, you can stop doing it immediately, and focus on what is necessary.”  So, for each of the metrics that you came up with for the next 12-18 months, what 3 to 5 actions (or strategic priorities) will you focus on continuously for the next 12 to 18 months to reach those goals?

Finally, look at the first scene, the next 3 months.  What 1 to 5 key metrics will you focus on in the next three months that will put you on the right track for achieving your goals?

We have talked about the destination.  You need to know where you are going.  We have talked about the starting point.  The most important thing here is to know that you can get anywhere you want to from here. We have talked about the journey and a system that you can use to develop your strategy.  But there is one other thing that I must cover.  Do you have the proper mindset for your destination?

Now this is where I have to put my minister’s hat on.  In the Bible, there is a story about the children of Israel and their journey from the captivity of Egypt to the freedom of their promise land.  You can read all about their journey in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. When you read the story, if looks like they had everything that they needed to be successful.  They had a strong earthly leader and they had an even stronger heavenly leader.  God was literally with them as a cloud by day and fire by night.  They went through a lot of stuff during the journey.  They realized that they had a lot of moral and emotional baggage during the journey.  They were a hot mess. But God was fine with all of that.  They were on track to get to their destination.

The problem happened when they got there.  They were literally across the street from their destination but could not go enter their destination.  They were able to enter physically for a minute and even spied it out.  The leader was saying, “Go ahead.”  God was saying, “Go ahead.” But they could not enter into it mentally.  They spent all of that time on the journey, all of that time complaining about the journey and how they should have stayed at point A.  They went thought all of that stuff just to end up across the street from the promise land but unable to enter mentally.

What was it that kept them from entering in?  Things looked different.  The people looked like giants.  Sure, the land looked plentiful, the grapes were huge, but so were the people.  But what they didn’t realize is that perhaps eating big grapes would make them big also.  They didn’t realize that they had supernatural help that would make them seem big also.  They may have been on a “land flowing with milk and honey” journey but they were not ready for a “land flowing with milk and honey” destination.

Are you ready for your destination?  Find some people that are where you want to go.  Look at their experience.  Are you ready?  Sure, you want your business to triple by 2016, you want to weigh 50 pounds less or you want to be in a committed relationship by 2016.  But are you ready to do the things that are necessary?  Your business tripling means that you probably have at least double the amount of customers that you have now.  If your mindset is, “Oh, people get on my nerves, I’m so tired of people,” then you may not be ready for more people.

Know where you are going.  Know that you can get anywhere you want to from here.  Take the inspired actions that you need to along the way. But while you are on the journey, ask God or whoever you consider your higher power to be to get you in the proper mindset for the destination.