Strategy for You: Building a Bridge to the Life You Want

Strategy for You: Building a Bridge to the Life You Want

by Rich Horwath
     
 

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Most people have spent their lives randomly bouncing around like bumper cars, never arriving at the life they want. If fact, new research shows that only 15 percent of adults have a plan for their life. But what if there was a way, a proven way, to experience more of what life has to offer?

In "Strategy for You," world-renowned strategist Rich Horwath

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Overview


Most people have spent their lives randomly bouncing around like bumper cars, never arriving at the life they want. If fact, new research shows that only 15 percent of adults have a plan for their life. But what if there was a way, a proven way, to experience more of what life has to offer?

In "Strategy for You," world-renowned strategist Rich Horwath provides a proven plan for building the bridge to an exceptional life. Based on Horwath's ground-breaking work in the field of strategic thinking, the book helps readers apply the time-tested principles of business strategy to their lives. The author incorporates GOST (goals, objectives, strategies, tactics_, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), and other business tools into a five-step plan that enables readers to
       DISCOVER the purpose in their lives
       DIFFERENTIATE their unique strengths
       DECIDE how best to allocate their time and talent
       DESIGN an effective action plan
       DRIVE their plan to ultimate success

To help readers get from where they are today to where they want to go, Horwath illustrates his five-step plan with examples of people who have successfully used strategy as a bridge to realize their destinies.

"Strategy for You" gives readers the opportunity to maximize their true potential at work and at home and build that bridge to the life they've always wanted.

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Editorial Reviews

-Steve Denault

“Rich has the ability to simplify the complex topic of strategy using real-world examples and metaphors that bring it to life. I have applied his teachings to help me operate more strategically at work. Strategy for You takes the next step and provides a path to help people develop strategies for all aspects of their lives.” —Steve Denault, senior vice president of human resources and communications, COUNTRY Financial
-Brian Meinken

“In Strategy for You, Rich takes the principles of business strategy to the next level and demonstrates how to use them to be more effective at work and at home. Rich’s research and writing in the field of strategy has helped managers move beyond tactical to strategic thinking.”
—Brian Meinken, senior director of Foodservice Procurement, Kraft Foods
-Dave Taylor

“Rich was able to teach my team strategy concepts and tools to change the way we think as leaders and move us from tactical to strategic thinkers. Strategy for You takes these foundational strategy principles and illustrates how people can apply them to their overall lives.”
—Dave Taylor, director, Emerson Canada Engineering Center

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608322510
Publisher:
Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
Publication date:
01/24/2012
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
718,142
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Strategy for You

Building a Bridge to the Life You Want
By Rich Horwath

Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2012 Rich Horwath
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-60832-251-0


Chapter One

STEP 1: DISCOVER

SELECTING YOUR BRIDGE'S LOCATION

The first step is not forward. It is knowing the place from which it is taken.

The Ponte Vecchio ("old bridge" in Italian) connects the two halves of the walled medieval city of Florence, Italy. Built after the flood of 1177, the bridge was covered with shops and residences. After it was destroyed by a flood in 1333, reconstruction was completed in 1345, and over the centuries the bridge continued to endure the elements, more floods, and war. On August 2, 1944, German bombers destroyed all the bridges in Florence—except for the Ponte Vecchio. It was spared under direct order from Hitler. Why? Because the Ponte Vecchio is more than just a bridge. It's a marketplace, a piazza for mingling, and even a site for a hospital at one end. Some would say it's a microcosm of the city itself The Ponte Vecchio long ago answered the first question to be asked about any bridge: "Why?"

We can't begin to build a strategy for our lives without first understanding where we are and where we want to go. In order to effectively answer these questions, it's vital to understand where we are starting from. Since people are different, it's reasonable to assume their current situations or starting points will be different as well. That's why books that tout a single formula for success or improvement, without taking into account the different places people are starting from, are worthless. Would you trust a doctor who didn't ask any questions or run any tests to diagnose what was wrong, yet wrote you a prescription anyway? In medicine, the adage is Prescription without diagnosis equals malpractice. Before we can "prescribe" strategy, we first need to diagnose the situation-where we stand, where we are today. Before we build our bridge, we first need to identify where we'll be building it.

Surveying the Landscape

When a designer sites the location for a bridge, he makes a survey. A bridge survey is a comprehensive view of the tactical and technical considerations of the proposed bridge. This survey provides critical information about the terrain on which the bridge will start, what direction it will go, and where it will end. The surveyor considers access roads or rails; bridge length; composition and shape of the banks; character of the river, stream, or area to be spanned; and so forth. In essence, the survey is a detailed study of a bridge's beginnings.

In a similar fashion, an Individual Survey provides a visual snapshot of your current situation. It gives a practical means of assessing where you are today by identifying your position in four areas—Mind, Body, Relationships, and Finances. Mind consists of all those things that are on your mind: thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, worries, and spirituality. Body includes all the elements related to your physical well-being: diet, exercise, age, hobbies, sports, and other lifestyle choices that affect your health. Relationships revolve around your connections with family, friends, relatives, coworkers, bosses, neighbors, pets, and so forth. Finally, Finances include the things most prominent in terms of your monetary health: job, income, expenses, savings, mortgage, rent, credit card debt, 401 (k) plans, children's college funds. Following is an example of an Individual Survey: The Individual Survey transfers your thoughts and feelings to paper so you can get a better view, or survey, of your life as a whole. Conducting an Individual Survey on a regular basis also gives you a way to track what's changing in your life, so you can factor those changes into your strategies.

According to author Donald Sull, studies of air traffic controllers have found that up to 70 percent of their mistakes result from an inability to track factors that showed a change in the situation, even though those factors were readily available.' To modify a popular saying, if you don't know where you're going, there's a good chance you have no idea where you are in the first place. And if you don't know where your bridge is starting from, it's impossible to stay on top of changes that can have a significant impact on your goals and strategies. Successfully identifying the highlights in your Individual Survey lays the foundation for the ability to choose the right action in the right place at the right time.

Strategy's Destination

Imagine you're driving back from a business meeting and you realize you won't be home in time for dinner. You decide to hit a fast-food drive-thru and grab something to go so you can still get home in time to give the kids a kiss goodnight. Unfortunately, here's how the driver in front of you orders:

Drive-thru attendant: Would you like to try our new hot-'n'-spicy bucket-o'-stuff today?

Customer: Uhhh ... no thanks. I'm hungry and I'd like some food.

Attendant: Yeah, I kind of figured that, since you're here at a fast-food restaurant. What would you like?

Customer: Well, I like meat. Maybe I'll have some type of meat product.

Attendant: Fantastic. We have about sixty-three meat products on the menu. Can you be a little more specific?

Customer: OK, how about meat with some type of bread?

Attendant: Great, that narrows it down to forty-five meat products that come on some type of bread. Do you want a hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, beef sandwich, panini, gyro ...? Look, pal, I don't have all night. Do I have to read you the entire menu?

Customer: OK, how about a hamburger?

Attendant: Anything to drink with that?

Customer: Sure. I'll have a beverage.

While this exchange would be ridiculous even by fast-food drive-thru standards, its equivalent happens every day: People go through the motions of their business and personal lives without truly knowing what it is they want. Don't believe me? Stop reading this and go ask five people what their top three goals are for this year. Three out of the five won't know. At least, that's what research conducted with twenty thousand people showed. Most people simply can't articulate what it is that they want to achieve. Their destination is forever unknown.

Ask your spouse, partner, friend, or neighbor what his or her top three goals are for the next year. After the quick-witted "Win the lottery and quit my job," my guess is he or she won't really have an answer. While it's hard to believe that something so fundamental as goals and objectives can be overlooked, remember that research shows only 15 percent of people take the time to write down what they want (goals) and how they will achieve it (strategy).

This begs the question: Is it really that important to understand the difference between goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics? From a business perspective, the answer is a definitive "yes." A study on financial performance shows that companies with clearly defined and well-articulated strategies coupled with three other primary practices, on average, grow their sales by 32 percent a year and increase their profits by 41.5 percent a year over a ten-year period. How does that compare with your organization's results?

A common response is, "Well, if it weren't for the bad economy, we'd have those numbers too." I hate to burst the It's not our fault, it's the economy bubble, but I will. Research by Matthew Olson found that 70 percent of a company's poor performance is due to decisions about strategy, and only 4 percent can be attributed to the overall economy. So the next time somebody in your company blames the economy for his or her bad results, smile and hand that person a mirror.

It's common to hear businesspeople blame the economy for their poor performance. As Olson's research shows, however, the real cause of their failure is their inability to develop sound strategy. The same can be said for our personal lives. We all know people who blame external circumstances for their unhappiness or inability to create the life they want. Any of the following statements sound familiar?

"I can't just quit my job. I have bills to pay, and the job market is still bad."

"My marriage isn't great because my spouse has changed since we were married."

"My kids don't understand that I have to be responsive to e-mail and my B1ackBerry is the only way to keep up."

"I'd like to go back to school, but I don't have the time."

"I'd love to do another type of work, but I can't because I'd have to take a major pay cut."

"My doctor says I need to lose weight, but she doesn't understand how hard it is to exercise and eat healthfully when you travel as much as I do."

Excuses are a symptom of not having a strategy. You can stand around watching others pursue their dreams, or you can take control of your life and actively build your bridge to a better place. Let's introduce a tool that can replace excuses with strategy.

The GOST Framework

I've developed a simple framework to help people understand the differences between goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics: the GOST Framework.

Say you were using the GOST Framework for an upcoming trip. It might look like this:

GOAL

A goal is a target. It describes what you are trying to achieve—in general terms. Examples of goals include the following:

1. Lose weight.

2. Win the quarterly sales contest for my region.

3. Become closer to my spouse or partner.

OBJECTIVE

An objective also describes what you are trying to achieve. The difference is, an objective is what you are trying to achieve in specific terms. The common acronym used to help flesh out an objective is SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Objectives should be all these things, and they should flow directly from the goals you've already set. As you'll see, the objective examples match up with the corresponding goals we established earlier. Examples of objectives include the following:

1. Goal: Lose weight.

Objective: Lose 15 pounds in six months.

2. Goal: Win the quarterly sales contest for my region.

Objective: Achieve $250,000 in sales by the end of the third quarter of this year.

3. Goal: Become closer to my spouse or partner.

Objective: Have a date night with my spouse every week at a new restaurant.

STRATEGY & TACTICS

Once we've identified the goals and objectives, then we can determine the strategy, which is the bridge to achieving them. Strategy and tactics are how you will achieve your goals and objectives—how you will allocate your resources to do so. Strategy is the general resource allocation plan. The tactics, then, are how specifically or tangibly you will do that. Using the previous examples, we can see how the strategy serves as the path to achieving our goals and objectives.

1. Goal: Lose weight.

Objective: Lose 15 pounds in six months.

Strategy: Eliminate weight-causing behaviors and create weight-reducing behaviors.

Tactics: Drink diet soda rather than regular soda. Purchase a treadmill and elastic strength bands to exercise at home for thirty minutes a day, five days a week. Go to bed forty minutes earlier and wake up forty minutes earlier to complete exercise in the morning. Eat a protein-based breakfast, choosing from such options as eggs, peanut butter, ham, or a protein shake.

2. Goal: Win the quarterly sales contest for my region.

Objective: Achieve $250,000 in sales by the end of the third quarter of this year.

Strategy: Focus selling efforts on expanding share of wallet with current customers.

Tactics: Schedule appointments with my top twenty customers. Prepare a sell sheet showing dollarized value of using our products in combination. Videotape three customers using two or more of our products in combination. Purchase an iPad and put new sell sheets and videos into a presentation for use during customer meetings.

3. Goal: Become closer to my spouse or partner.

Objective: Have a date night with my spouse every week at a new restaurant.

Strategy: Dedicate thoughtful time to my spouse to rekindle our relationship.

Tactics: Download Urbanspoon app to mobile phone to identify potential restaurants. Build a database of restaurants, including their locations and phone numbers. Create a list of live entertainment establishments, theaters, and other recreational venues. Develop a calendar just for date night, and populate it with choices.

If you're having trouble differentiating between strategy and tactics, you can use the "rule of touch." If you can reach out and physically touch it (e.g., a treadmill, a sell sheet, a calendar), it's a tactic.

It's often said that strategy is long-term and tactics are short-term. In reality, long-term and short-term descriptors for strategy and tactics may or may not apply. A strategy that successfully helps you achieve your goal of losing 15 pounds in six months might be short-term compared to tactics you'll use for years to come in keeping off the unwanted pounds. Using time as the criterion for distinguishing between strategy and tactics is common, but this is the wrong approach.

Since we can't see or physically reach out and touch strategy, it's often skipped in favor of going straight to tactics. Many of the business plans I've reviewed over the past fifteen years list goals first, then objectives, and then tactics. If you don't set strategy before tactics, however, you have no way of intelligently changing course when you're not meeting your objectives. Having a high-performance car (tactic) doesn't help you reach the other side of the river if there isn't a bridge (strategy) to cross it.

With no strategy, you'll fall into a game of "tactical roulette," where you continually chamber a new tactic and pull the trigger. Sooner or later, you'll find yourself looking at a dead plan.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Strategy for You by Rich Horwath Copyright © 2012 by Rich Horwath. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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