There has been something of a leadership take-over on the Motivational Memos site, but this is no bad thing, as leadership is intrinsically linked with motivation! We have looked at the four types of leader, the three critical mistakes leaders can make, the five key aspects of leadership from a motivational perspective, and how Maps advocates a different kind of leadership to the popular models today.
Today, I want to look at planning, and I want to give you some useful tools for planning and visioning. In my article the five key aspects of leadership from a motivational perspective, I identified “vision for those you lead” as one of those key aspects. Therefore, a vital role for a leader is to have a vision for their company and teams, and a plan of how to get there. All vision and no practical plan makes for simply ‘dreaming’ without action. Of course, dreaming, or to use a more business-like term ‘envisioning’, is important too – nothing can happen without first seeing it in the ‘mind’s eye’, to quote Hamlet. But for real change to occur, there has to be a plan of how to make this happen.
It is fitting that I have just referenced Hamlet, because in fact this was the eponymous character’s very problem. He saw in his mind’s eye what he needed to do: avenge his father by killing his uncle, but he had no real plan for doing it. And, when he did create a plan, it was so complex as to be entirely ineffective. Therefore, his story ends in tragedy and universal calamity, rather than victory. If only Hamlet had used Motivational Maps!
However, it must be said that if creating a practical plan to achieve our visions were easy, we’d all be doing it, and we wouldn’t see quite so many examples of organisations floundering because of directionless leadership. On a micro-level, we all set goals that we don’t have good plans for achieving. We want to lose weight so we decide to go to the gym every day, not realising that this is completely impractical from all kinds of stand-points (financial, time, competing demands, etc!).
So, let me introduce you to a five-step model, called the Five Elements, which can get you from dreaming and envisioning to completing your goal. The easiest way to look at the Five Elements model is through an example. I’m going to share the example used in Mapping Motivation for Leadership, my book co-authored with Jane Thomas, which is to deploy the Five Elements for planning a holiday, using five questions:
1. Where do I want to go, or what is my ideal destination?
2. How will I get there, or what’s my preferred mode of transport?
3. How much can I spend, or what will it cost?
4. What can I do when I get there, or what do I want to do?
5. Where did I go last year? Plus, how good was my holiday last year?
Now, you may already be able to see some business application to these questions, but for now let’s continue with the example and look at hypothetical answers to these questions:
1. My ideal destination is Sydney, Australia (and I am based in the UK)
2. By train; I hate flying
3. My bank account is currently £2K overdrawn and I have no savings
4. I love seeing Renaissance art and visiting Gothic churches
5. Bognor Regis – terrible; it rained so much that most of the time I stayed in
Now, amusing as this hodgepodge is – you will be looking for a long time to find Gothic churches in Sydney! – it sadly reflects the reality of how most organisations plan. They answer questions without reconciling the context of the other questions, and therefore create a vision that is unworkable. This can be due to people at the top not listening to more experienced or practically-minded people on the ground. Or perhaps simply over-ambition on the part of everyone in the organisation. Of course, in this example, it is obvious that we cannot realistically get to Sydney via train. However, if we view this in more business terms, it might not be quite as obvious that we cannot sell ten-thousand units through brick-and-mortar stores (perhaps due to supplier limitations).
There is an element of risk in pretty much all business, with perhaps one or two exceptions such as publicly funded organisations. Certainly I fully advocate experimenting, taking the initiative, seizing chances, and so forth. Many technological companies founded their success on taking bold innovative leaps. But equally, many technology companies also go bust taking bold innovative leaps. So, a balance is necessary here. We want to be ambitious, to tread new ground, but we must also have a firm plan of how to do it.
So, let’s go a little deeper into the Five Elements.
Where do we want to be?
This is the ‘dreaming’ stage. What is our aim? Where do we want to take the company, our team; what do we want to achieve?
How will we get there?
Given what we want to achieve, how can we get there? What is a realistic pathway? We might consult relative contemporary or historical examples to give us some clues here. In other words, X company did it this way, so how could I learn from this?
What resources are necessary?
We have to be honest about the resources it will take. And I say honest because most of the time we grossly under-estimate costs. I recently read that the majority of musicians only ‘break even’ on their tours! The cost of travelling, looking after the lighting, sound, and tech crew, staying at hotels, eating out, to say nothing of the time invested, often outweighs ticket sales. This is tragic. Live music is a great gift, but if we are viewing it from a business perspective, it seems for most artists, this is becoming pointless activity – other than to generate hype and interest.
What actions happen?
What can we do when we get there? This is another way to view this question. What will we be doing to get to our vision-destination, and what can we do when we get there?
What results have we achieved, and so, where are we now?
What have we achieved in the past? How might that inform our vision? If we previously failed to sell 500 units last year, is it wise to aim to sell 2,000,000 this year? Again, it may seem obvious, but organisation tend to be swept up in the narrative of ‘growth’ that they do not consider mundane realities. This also applies to checking in on our progress towards out vision. What have we achieved so far? Are we on track? How can we course-correct?
This model connects to our motivations, learning style, past/present/future orientation, risk and change, and more in ways too abundant to document here. I hope, however, this has given you an interesting starting point for planning in your business or team!
If you want to take this further, I’d like to offer you a 30% discount on my book Mapping Motivation For Leadership, co-authored with Jane Thomas, so you can get the full experience! Simply use this code: ADS19 at check out to get your 30% off! You can purchase the book from the Routledge website here.
As always, thank you for reading. Stay motivated!