Dear Stephen…

Volume 20 Letter 9

Dear Stephen

Thanks for sharing the strategic plan presentation.  Here are my initial impressions and some early suggestions.

  1. Focus on outcomes.  The presentation tells me a lot about what you do, but after reading it I’m really struggling to find out what you’re going to do for me?   (Not me, but you know….)
  2. What do you want?  When I read this I don’t know what you want. Do you need more people? More time? Bigger computers? It’s not clear what you’re asking for and if you do want something.
  3. Why is this a problem? When I read this it’s not clear what the problem is – why are we here?   Why am I talking to you and why is this important?   (When you talked with me on our call you articulated this very clearly.)  And finally …
  4. The presentation is boring:   Pick up a newspaper today and read the headlines:
  • Trump hospitalized with COVID-19
  • Wildfires devastate California
  • Hurricane approaches Florida Coast
  • Bigfoot spotted in Montana. (Okay, I made this last one up. Besides everyone knows Big Foot lives in Canada ??)

Now let’s read your headlines.  (Extra, extra! Read all about it!)

  • Overall Financial Responsibilities … (Your audience collectively roll their eyes)
  • Centralized Ops Activities … (Deep breaths all around)
  • Operations and Transformation … (Group collectively takes out their phones and starts reading emails about Big Foot in Montana)

Bottom line you have a real problem that needs a real solution that can have a significant impact on your company and ultimately on the customers we’re all here to serve.  Tell the story of your strategic plan.  It’s a good one, so tell it!   Here’s a guide:

  1. What’s the problem?  Establish why this is a problem.  What’s wrong and what is the negative impact on your business and your clients?
  2. What’s the prize?  When the problem is fixed how much money will you make me or save me, and/or how will lives be improved and risk be lowered?
  3. What’s the cost?  How much will it cost me to get the prize?
  4. What needs to be done to get the prize?  What needs to happen and what do I need to do to help you – high level only!!
  5. Sum it up:   “Houston we have a problem”… “we know how to fix this problem”…….“we’ll make a billion dollars when its fixed” …  “we need two million dollars and five people to fix it”  and then ……..and this is very important…..
  6. Ask for a Yes:  Don’t let anyone leave the room until you say “Give me a solid Yes and we’ll get started tomorrow and be done by July 2021.  Let’s get this needed work done!”
  7. For Bonus points: Keep me on the edge of my chair and make me want to turn the page and keep reading your story. (And please put all the org charts and detailed numbers and graphs in the appendix.)

Okay, this is the part in the movie where you take my name in vain and start to throw things. But seriously for a brief moment (not that Big Foot isn’t serious stuff), you do have a great story and an important job ahead of you.   My goal is not to offend you or hurt you with my silly comments – my only goal is to motivate you to let your infectious passion come through and inspire others to make a very positive (and needed) change.   This presentation doesn’t do that.   I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.   Stop trying to be political and formal and correct.   There’s a big problem that needs fixing ……you know how to fix it …… so Fix It!

Looking forward to the next version…..and dying to hear how Big Foot got across the border?

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