“David Novak is a great CEO. A lot of people claim to be good people managers, but David has actually made the investment to train the next generation of leaders at Yum! You will enjoy Taking People with You for its commonsense approach to, well, taking people with you.”
—Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric
“David Novak is an inspiring leader and a very astute student of the art of management.”
—Steve Burke, CEO, NBCUniversal
“David Novak has led Yum! Brands to achieve phenomenal business performance. He has accomplished this by being a word-class leader/teacher. His book is a very readable and energizing hat trick combining a compelling personal leadership narrative, great case examples, and pragmatic tools for others to use to build winning organizations.”
—Noel Tichy, professor and director, Global Citizenship Initiative at the University of Michigan, and coauthor with Warren Bennis of Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls
“Taking People with You is recommended reading for anyone who wants to learn more about leadership. Whether you want to grow a business or just grow as a person, David Novak’s book contains valuable lessons on how to perform at your best and help others do the same.”
—Andrew C. Taylor, chairman and CEO, Enterprise Holdings
“David’s career is replete with excellent accomplishments in motivating teams and large organizations to achieve the extraordinary. Yum! Brands is a great example. This how-to book distills these lessons so they can easily be adopted by any organization. Just excellent!”
—David Cote, chairman and CEO, Honeywell
“No one exemplifies dedicated personal leadership better than David. He has taught a class in leadership for many years and now is sharing those lessons in his book, Taking People with You. David shares his strategies for the kind of meaningful leadership that can move an organization forward and provides examples from his own career and from many other companies including Johnson & Johnson. I highly recommend Taking People with You for leaders at all levels in every organization.”—William C. Weldon, chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson
“Over the course of my nearly thirty-five-year career, I’ve worked with many different executives. Few are true leaders. David Novak is one of those rare individuals. Whether you are just starting your career or have already climbed a few rungs, the lessons taught in Taking People with You are dead on and should be universally embraced by anyone who wants to get ahead in business or in life. You can’t do it alone. And the ride is a whole lot more interesting when you’re surrounded by bright people who constantly and respectfully challenge one another to do their best.”—Howard Draft, executive chairman, Draftfcb
“Great leaders understand their leadership point of view and are willing to share it with others. That’s what David Novak has done for years with Yum! Brands, Inc.—and we are now fortunate enough to have him share his winning philosophies with us. I’m a big David Novak fan and you will be, too, after reading Taking People with You—a must read!
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager ® and Lead with LUV
taking people with you
I did my first Yum! cheer on Founder’s Day October 7, 1997 the day we were spun off from PepsiCo, to help launch a new culture fi lled with fun and positive energy. Now our people are doing Yum! cheers around the globe, including these two thousand restaurant general managers who recently celebrated their success on the Great Wall of China.
taking people with you
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Taking people with you : the only way to make big things happen / David Novak.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Leadership. 2. Employee motivation. 3. Organizational change. 4. Success in business. I. Title.
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To my daughter, Ashley, and all the other people in the world who want to be the best leaders they can be.
A special thanks to all of you who shared your insights and coaching, which helped make this book possible.
All of the author’s proceeds will go to the United Nations World Food Programme.
introduction taking people with you
this book starts with a basic premise: We all need people to help us along the way. You can go only so far by going it alone. If you want to start a business, if you want a big promotion, if you are developing or launching a new product, if you want your company to move in a new direction, if you want to expand your sales territory, if you want to raise money for a good cause, even if you become the coach of your child’s soccer team, which has lost every game so far, and you want to show those kids what it feels like to win, you’re going to need people to help you get there. You’ll never accomplish anything big if you try to do it alone.
Early in my career, I had an experience that changed how I thought about my own role as a leader and inspired me to accomplish what, for me, is my greatest example of taking people with you. I was working for PepsiCo at the time, making my way up through the ranks, and had recently become head of operations for Pepsi Bottling. I had held mainly marketing positions until then, so operations was a new world for me. One of the first things I did was travel to our various plants to meet with the people there and find out more about how things worked.
I was at a plant in St. Louis, conducting a 6:00 A.M. roundtable meeting with a group of route salesmen, when, over coffee and doughnuts, I asked what I thought was a pretty straightforward question about merchandising, which is all about the displays and visibility we get in convenience and grocery stores. I wanted to know what they thought was working and what wasn’t. Right away, someone piped up, “Bob is the expert in that area. He can tell you how it’s done.” Someone else added, “Bob taught me more in one day than I’d learned in two years on the job.” Every single person in the room agreed: Bob was the best there was. I looked over at Bob, thinking he must be thrilled by all this praise. Instead, I saw that he had tears running down his face. When I asked him what was wrong, Bob, who had been with the company for over forty years and was about to retire in just two weeks, said, “I never knew anyone felt this way about me.”
The rest of my visit to the plant went pretty well, but I walked away that day with an uneasy feeling. It was such a shame that Bob had never felt appreciated. It was a missed opportunity for the business, too. We all could have benefited from his expertise, and more people could have learned from him. This guy was clearly great at what he did, but who knows how much better he could have been in a workplace that recognized and rewarded his knowledge. I knew that if he felt overlooked and underappreciated, others at the plant did too.
I’ve always believed in people, but that experience made me even more determined to be the kind of leader who would never let a person like Bob go through his entire career without being thanked for what he did and encouraged to find out how much more he could do. I wanted the people who worked for me to know that they mattered, and I wanted them to enjoy coming to work every day. I also understood that none of this would happen unless I made it happen. It was my job to cast the right shadow of leadership, because no one else was going to live up to these principles unless I lived up to them first. As a leader, you always have to remember that people tend to follow the leader’s actions. You can’t say one thing and then do another and expect people to believe in you or follow you. As the leader, you have the opportunity to set an example of how the business should be run.
I am now chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company and owner of the brands KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. When I started in this position over a decade ago, I thought of the Bobs of the world and made it one of my first priorities to create a recognition culture in which everyone counted and to do it so successfully that our company would become renowned for it. That was no small task, considering we now have more than 1.4 million employees spread out over 117 countries around the world. But while we’re far from perfect, it’s working. I know it’s working, because I get proof of it practically every day.
Today I am probably best known within my organization for casting a shadow of recognition and positive energy. I do this demonstrably by: (1) recognizing people in a unique way for their performance and (2) leading people in our Yum! cheer every chance I get. These two aspects of our culture have traveled all the way around the world. When I first started giving out recognition awards, I decided I wanted them to be much more memorable than your typical plaque or a pen. So when I was at KFC, for example, I gave out these floppy rubber chickens. In my current position, I give out a huge set of smiling teeth mounted on a pair of skinny legs with big feet. Now everywhere we do business, leaders in our organization give out their own versions of these awards. Our HR director in India recognizes outstanding performers by giving them a replica of the Taj Mahal, because the workers who built it are remembered for their passion, determination, and overall excellence. A general manager in Dubai gives out his Camel Award, because camels are revered animals in the desert, known for their steadfastness, perseverance, and undying spirit. The head of our construction department recognizes people with his Shovel Award, naturally, and our chief financial officer has his Show Me the Money Award, which consists of a transparent piggy bank filled with Monopoly money and a copy of the movie Jerry McGuire, in which that famous phrase originated. The fact that each leader took the time to personalize these awards makes recognition that much more meaningful and fun for everyone.
I’d also venture to say that most of our 1.4 million people around the world now know and do the Yum! cheer, spelling out the name of our organization: “Give me a Y,” the leader will say, and team members will shout back “Y!” and so on. When I first started doing things like these, I was told by some people that my “Western ideas” wouldn’t work in places like Asia or Europe. Boy, were those people wrong. I believe that, just like Bob, all people, no matter what they do or where they’re from, want to know that they are important and to have fun while they’re doing their job. My favorite picture, which now hangs prominently on the walls of our headquarters, features two thousand restaurant general managers proudly doing the Yum! cheer on the Great Wall of China, all of their hands held up high to create the “Y” in Yum! It always reminds me that my shadow has traveled a long way. It also reminds me of the power of taking people with you and the fact that it’s the key to achieving breakthrough results. My goal for this book is to share with you everything I’ve learned about how to lead your team so you can do just that.
Taking People with You is not just another book filled with leadership principles you’ve heard time and time again. It’s really more of an action plan. It offers a very specific process that will help you maximize your potential as a leader and show you how to use your leadership skills to achieve the most important goals you can imagine. It’s a book that will force you to look in the mirror and challenge yourself to rise to a higher level. It’s a step by step guidebook and workbook, and by its end, you’ll walk away with a tangible plan that you can use over and over again to get big things done. This is a book that will help you become not just a better leader, but also a better person, by making you more self-aware and showing you how to build up the people around you.
How can I make such bold promises? I’m certain this book can do these things because I have been developing and testing its content for the past fifteen years. This book comes out of a leadership program of the same name that I have taught to more than four thousand people in my organization.
It all started back in 1996, when I was working for PepsiCo as the president of KFC and Pizza Hut. Roger Enrico, who was chairman of the company at the time, called me up and said, “David, I’d like you to create a leadership program for PepsiCo executives. You’ve got a pretty good reputation for building and aligning teams, and I’d like you to share what you know and what you do with others.”
I was really honored and excited by the opportunity, because this is just the sort of thing I love to do. I went to work on the program right away. I had pretty much figured out what I was going to present—I even had a date scheduled to give my very first program to a group of fifteen PepsiCo executives—when I got a phone call that changed everything.
It was Roger again, only this time he had something different to tell me. “David,” he said, “we’re going to spin off the restaurants.” I immediately asked, “What the heck does that mean for our people and our company?”
What it meant was this: PepsiCo was going to keep its packaged foods brands—Pepsi and Frito Lay—but it was going to shed all three of its restaurant brands—KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. They were going to spin them off together to become a brand-new, totally independent public company.
I was part of the restaurant side of the business, of course, so it no longer made sense for me to give my leadership program to a group of PepsiCo executives that I wouldn’t be working with for much longer. The program got shelved, and I was distracted by other details, like who was going to lead this new company.
It turned out that the answer to that question was me, along with a guy named Andy Pearson, a past president of PepsiCo and a professor at Harvard Business School. I became president and Andy became the chairman and CEO, as well as my mentor even after he retired and I took over his position a couple years later. One of the first things Andy said to me when we were starting out was, “How would you like to have lunch with Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric, and talk to him about what we’re going to do with our new company?”
Of course I said yes. The opportunity to pick the brain of one of the most successful businessmen alive was too good to pass up. I asked Jack every question I could think of and just sat there taking notes as he answered. One of my last questions was, “If you were in my position, about to start a new company, what would you do?”
What he said really hit home. He told me, “Looking back on my career at GE, one of the things I wish I could do over is I wish I would’ve talked to our people more about what kind of company I envisioned us to be … what our values were and what we really stood for.”
I went back to my office and spent the next week thinking about how I could do just that.
I wanted us to be a company with a unique culture, one that revolved around a genuine belief in people. I took another look at my leadership program, revised it, and made it part of communicating that message. My goal was to scale the program so that I could reach as many people as possible and make it relevant to a broad audience. There are obviously a lot of people I have to reach when I want to communicate an important message about our company. Launching this program was my first step toward building the unique Yum! culture.
I taught my Taking People with You program for the very first time to a group of just eight executives in London. In the years since then, I have expanded the reach significantly and strengthened the content, constantly adding to it, refining it, and making it better. As CEO of a Fortune 500 company, I’ve had the opportunity, along with my team, to study best practices and learn from some of the most successful companies in the world. I’ve interviewed experts like Jim Collins on building great companies, Larry Bossidy on execution, Bob Rotella on the psychology of winning, John Wooden on coaching for performance, Noel Tichy on having a “teachable point of view,” and Ken Blanchard on creating a people-first culture. I’ve sought insights from highly respected active CEOs, like Jamie Dimon, Indra Nooyi, Bill Weldon, Jeff Immelt, Dave Cote, Steve Burke, Randall Stephenson, Andy Taylor, and Alan Mulally. I’ve also benefited from the wisdom of a prestigious board of directors that includes David Dorman, Ken Langone, Massimo Ferragamo, Jon Linen, David Grissom, Tom Nelson, Bonnie Hill, Tom Ryan, Bob Holland, and Bob Walter. (At the back of this book is a list of people I’ve sought knowledge from in one way or another, including in depth, videotaped interviews that I’ve done with many of them to share with the participants in my leadership program.) In the coming pages, you will see how these people, who are some of the most successful leaders and experts alive today, apply many of the steps in this book to their own businesses.
This book also benefits from the inclusion of interactive tools, which have been provided by two of the most notable thinkers on culture and breakthrough thinking in business:
John O’Keeffe. During a visit to the Yum! division in China a few years ago, I noticed that team members there displayed a tremendous drive for performance. Everyone I talked to had these big goals that they were working on, and they all used language like step-change and breakthrough. The division was then, and still is, hugely successful, China being our largest and most rapidly expanding market, so I had to find out what this was all about. I asked the head of our China division, Sam Su, and he told me about this Business Beyond the Box training course he had taken in London, given by an international speaker, author, and former colleague of Sam’s at Procter & Gamble, John O’Keeffe. Sam had liked it so much that he had the materials translated into Mandarin and personally taught them to everyone on his team. I was so impressed with how the training had worked in China that I wanted everyone in our organization to be exposed to it. Now, thanks to the efforts of our vice president of people development, Tim Galbraith, we have cascaded and taught a version of John’s program (which we call Achieving Breakthrough Results) in every corner of our organization. It has become an invaluable part of our training at Yum! Brands. John has generously allowed us to use a number of his tools from that program throughout this book.
Larry Senn. I first met and worked with Larry, founder and chairman of Senn Delaney, when I became the president of KFC in the mid-1990s. Out of the blue, I got a letter from a culture expert who said he had a process, including tools and exercises, that helped people become better leaders and work better as a team. I met with him and was so impressed that I took my KFC team to an offsite meeting in Blackberry, Tennessee, to learn from Larry. They in turn were so impressed that they took the tools to their own team members, and Larry’s influence kept spreading until it reached our front-line employees. I used Larry and the Senn Delaney process again when I took over Pizza Hut and in the first years after the spin-off when we used his tools to grow and implement our culture all around the world. Several of my favorites among Larry’s tools are included in this book.
How to Use This Book
I still teach my Taking People with You program regularly—up to eight times a year, in fact, in three-day sessions each time—and people often ask me how, in my position, I can afford to spend so much time on it. I figure that with three famous brands and an international infrastructure already in place, if I can teach our people how to get big things done, then just imagine the potential for even more growth. I’m pleased to say that despite global challenges, Yum! Brands has been growing during these hard economic times. Our stock has increased over six times, and we’ve had 13 percent growth or more for the past nine years. The fact that our organization has put the lessons in this book into action is a major reason behind our success.
A good leader has to be goal-oriented; otherwise you might end up just leading people around in circles. So I’ll start you off in the next chapter with a provocative question: What’s the single biggest thing you can imagine that will grow your business or impact your life?
Once you’ve set a goal for yourself in chapter 1, each subsequent chapter focuses on a single step along the path to achieving it. These steps are divided into three sections: (1) getting into the leadership mind-set, (2) developing a plan and building alignment, and (3) following through, on both the execution of that plan and the support of your people.
At the end of each chapter, you will be challenged to self-reflect on where you stand in relation to the lesson you just read and asked to apply what you learned to your current goal. Each of the book’s three parts will end with additional questions to help you turn these lessons into action, so that this becomes more than just a passive reading experience. This is a book you can use to truly grow and improve and reach your goals.
My coaching is that you do not sit down and read this book cover to cover in one sitting. If you do, you’ll be selling yourself short. This is a workbook on how to get things done better and faster by getting people fired up to help you achieve your goals. To do this right, you need to take your time, reflecting on each step and on your own leadership style. In fact, I suggest that you read no more than one chapter a day. Altogether there are fourteen chapters in this book, which means that in just two weeks, you can be well on your way to being the kind of leader who accomplishes big things. If you’re willing to put in the time, I believe this could be one of the most powerful and most action-oriented books you’ve ever read.
1 an insight-driven approach to leading people and achieving big goals
you have to begin by asking yourself three big questions that will drive your approach to leadership and allow you to take people with you. They are:
1. What’s the single biggest thing you can imagine that will grow your business or change your life?
2. Who do you need to affect, influence, or take with you to be successful?
3. What perceptions, habits, or beliefs of this target audience do you need to build, change, or reinforce to reach your goal?
Before I ask you to answer these questions, I need to explain the right way to approach them. When Roger Enrico first asked me to develop a program on leadership, the request forced me to take a look in the mirror and ask myself what was my key to taking people with me. How, exactly, was I able to get people on the same page and marching toward a goal? I concluded that the core of my leadership success stems from my ability to think like a marketer.
My current title is CEO, but I’m a marketer at heart. I graduated not from Harvard Business School, but from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a major in advertising. My first job out of college was as a copywriter at a tiny ad agency in Washington, D. C., that worked on only local business accounts. From those modest beginnings, my career grew to where it is today.
In marketing, if you can get inside the minds of your customers, you have the opportunity to solve their problems for them in a way that can improve your business. You need to have a good understanding of what they’re thinking and why they’re thinking that way. In order to get people to buy your product, for example, you have to start by gaining insight into what will convince them that they can’t or shouldn’t live without it. To be a successful leader, one who gets big things done, you need to have the same kind of insight into the minds of those you lead.
To give you an example of how this works in marketing, let me tell you how we turned around Taco Bell several years ago. Taco Bell is our most profitable brand in the United States today, but a number of years ago, we were struggling. As a result, we did a problem-detection study and found out the biggest, most important, and most frequently occurring problem customers had with our brand was that our products weren’t portable because they were just too messy. Our tacos, burritos, and nachos just didn’t work on the go, and they could easily end up in your lap if you dared to eat and drive. That’s a real issue when 70 percent of your business comes from the drive-thru.
Prior to this study, Taco Bell had launched two new products that had been duds in the test market: a quesadilla and a grilled stuffed burrito. We’d introduced them simply by advertising them in descriptive terms, saying Taco Bell now had a new quesadilla and a new larger, grilled burrito. Both products, however, also happened to be very easy to eat on the go because the grilling process sealed the ingredients together in their tortilla wrappers. So we took those same two products and repositioned them as portable and easy to eat. We signed up Jeff Bezos from Amazon as our celebrity spokesperson and advertised the quesadilla as the hottest new “handheld” on the market, a takeoff on the new technology craze that was so appealing to our young target audience. Then we relaunched our Grilled Stuft Burrito as the “heavy-duty portable” with some really funny advertising. And guess what happened? The same two products that had failed before now generated double-digit same-store sales growth. By repositioning them in the context of how our customers were thinking and presenting them as a solution to their major problem with our brand, these products were now a huge success.
We then built on this formula for success by creating our Crunchwrap as the ideal portable product. The ingredients were sealed within an octagonal soft tortilla. Our advertising had customers claim that the Crunchwrap was “Good to Go,” and we used a wavelike hand movement that helped the phrase go viral and become part of the vernacular. More important, the Crunchwrap was named “product of the year” by Nation’s Restaurant News and resulted in tremendous same-store sales growth. Again, by focusing on portability, we created a winner. It was a home-run insight that turned Taco Bell around.
What we did at Taco Bell is what I call reframing. You don’t just talk about what you’re offering people; you make sure your brand or product is positioned in a way that is relevant to whomever you’re trying to influence. This kind of insight-driven thinking works in all kinds of situations. Snickers achieved dramatic growth when it tapped into the consumer mind-set that candy bars are not good for you and started touting their brand as “The Snack that Satisfies.” Swatch did something similar when, instead of positioning themselves as simply another watch brand, they realized that consumers wanted to use their watches as clothing accessories. Swatch started offering a wide variety of watchbands, and soon their products became a fashion statement. After the people at Kellogg’s Corn Flakes realized that customers had become so enamored with the plethora of new cereal products that they had forgotten about their classic brand, they rejuvenated sales by challenging people to “Taste it for the first time.” Pampers revitalized its image and sales by shifting focus from a brand that stood for dryness, which any diaper brand could have claimed, to one that appealed to mothers by emphasizing how much the company cared about the development of their babies. And if you’re as old as I am, you may remember how Oldsmobile successfully countered its stodgy image by talking about its new model as “Not your father’s Oldsmobile.” You get the idea. Knowing how people are thinking gives you the insight you need to reframe your product in a way that gets people on your side.
The great news for you as a leader is that this insight-driven approach doesn’t work just with customers; it’s the right first step in any leadership situation. For example, Jim Stengel, now a professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, told me how he started off his new position as global marketing officer for P& G in 2001 by getting inside the heads of the people he was meant to lead. The company was not in good shape at that time, so he hired a couple of professors to find out why and what effect that was having on the people who worked there.
“We spent time talking to P& G people all around the world,” Stengel explained to me. “We wanted to understand what was on their minds, what their pain points were, what winning would look like to them. We used the same techniques we use for brand research on the people within our organization. And what I found was, they weren’t spending their time doing what they loved doing. They had lost their sense of purpose. They wanted to win so badly, but we just weren’t.”
Stengel started addressing those concerns one by one, and the effort had a real impact. For example, there had been a tradition at P& G whereby people would move to a new position about once every eighteen months. The practice wasn’t very popular because it meant people had little time to get comfortable in their roles. Nonetheless, no one wanted to complain about it because it might seem that they weren’t team players or didn’t want to get ahead. But Stengel agreed that it wasn’t the best way to utilize people’s abilities, so he reframed the issue, stating publicly that he was going to keep people in their jobs longer in order for them to better develop their expertise. He also wanted to bring back a spirit of fun and creativity to the workplace, so he did things like take a group to the Cannes International Advertising Festival to show that he believed creativity was important. It was only after Stengel started to solve the problems that people were having and to change their perceptions about their work environment that things started to turn around financially as well.
Because I know it works, I believe it’s absolutely imperative that you use an insight-driven approach like this, and believe me, I use it every single time I need to take people with me. As I’ve been writing this book, for example, I’ve also been preparing for our annual, end of year investors meeting in New York, where we go through the financial state of the company and present our future outlook for tomorrow and beyond. I’ve been the CEO of Yum! Brands for over ten years now, and I’m proud to say they’ve been really good years for the company. Our stock has consistently outperformed the market, and it was up over 40 percent going into this meeting. But talking about the past isn’t all that compelling for investors; in fact, they think of past results as yesterday’s newspaper. What investors want to know is whether we can keep the momentum going. Will we have another good year? Where will we be ten years from now? Have we run out of gas, or can we continue to grow? My challenge then became, how can we reframe our message, our performance, and our potential to investors in a way that addresses, head on, how they’re thinking at that moment? As you’ll see in a few pages, that’s exactly what we did. Getting inside the head of those you need is your starting place for taking people with you.
What’s Your Big Goal?
The first job of a successful leader is to have an idea of where you want to lead people. I start off my Taking People with You program with a straightforward question: What’s the single biggest thing you can imagine that will grow your business or change your life?
I said it was a straightforward question; I didn’t say it was an easy one. The answer that you come up with is what I call a Big Goal, by which I mean something more than just small improvements or modest growth. It’s not very bold to do just marginally better than the year before.
Setting the right goal is the key to achieving success, and leaders often fall short in this area by not aiming high enough. None of us wants to fail, for a whole host of reasons (job preservation being among the top ones), so we tend to be cautious about how high we set our sights. But the truth of the matter is, shooting for just good enough rather than for greatness will not inspire the people around you. It also means you’ll never get a chance to find out what you and the people you lead are truly capable of. And that’s a shame, for your business, for your people, and for yourself.
So when you answer that question, take a moment to ask yourself: Am I thinking big enough? Use the following tool to help you think through your Big Goal and determine if you should be setting the bar a bit higher.
tool: picture step-change
Throughout this book, you will find tools like this one, which I learned from John O’Keeffe, who I mentioned in the introduction. These tools are intended to help you put important ideas into practice by prompting you to think them through and apply them to your own skills as a leader or to the goal you’re trying to accomplish.
I use this tool, for example, to help ensure that I’m thinking big when setting goals for myself and my team. Imagine, for a moment, that you are a high jumper trying to figure out how high you should set the bar for your next jump. Should you set it a little bit higher than your last one? In order to make it over, should you use the same method you used before and just try a little bit harder?
What about a step-change instead? How would you get over a bar that was set twice as high as your previous jump? You certainly wouldn’t be able to jump that high using only your legs, so you’d have to think of new methods. You might use a vault pole, trampoline, or ladder to help you get over. Or maybe you could find a way to fly over the bar, in a hang glider, for instance.
Aiming for small improvements to the way you already do something is not going to change the way you think and therefore will not open up your mind to new possibilities. When you picture step-change, you are forced to come up with new methods with more potential.
Remember, it is easier to make powerful ideas practical than it is to make pedestrian ideas powerful.
Picture Step-Change for Your Business
A step-change or Big Goal, as I called it earlier in this chapter, is the opposite of an incremental goal. If your sales growth last year was 3. 5 percent and this year you’re aiming for 4 percent, that’s incremental thinking. You have a good chance of reaching your target, but you’ll never know how much better you could have done if you’d tried.
If instead your target is 15 percent, that’s a bold challenge to set for yourself. Maybe you’ll get there, maybe you won’t, but making the attempt will get you further than if you hadn’t tried at all. Suppose you only make it halfway to your goal: That’s still a 7. 5 percent increase, versus the 4 percent you were originally aiming for … a significant difference.
This tool works because the ideas you or your team come up with are linked directly to the size of the goal you put forth. Picture step-change first and then see what ideas you can come up with to achieve it.
Ways to Use This Tool
• Think about a current target. Now double it. What ideas spring to mind about what you would have to do to double it?
• Think about a current timeline. Now cut that timeline in half. What ideas spring to mind about what you could do to halve the timeline?
The ideas you come up with will be powerful, but it may take some work to make them practical. However, remember that it’s easier to make powerful ideas practical than it is to make pedestrian ideas powerful. To bring this point home, when I was president of KFC, we had an average customer purchase cycle of once every fifty days. Rather than declaring war on our competition, I reframed our challenge, declaring war on that fifty-day cycle and making our step-change goal to envision feeding America a great tasting meal at least once a week. What would it take to do that? We knew we’d have to offer more variety than just fried chicken to get people coming back more often. As a result, we came up with some really successful new products that broadened our appeal, like our tender roast chicken for a non-fried option, crispy strips for a portable option, and pot pies as a home meal replacement. Getting our customers to come back every week was always aspirational, but that way of thinking helped us bring our customers in more frequently, shaving a couple of days off our average purchase cycle, which was a big win for us financially.
© John O’Keeffe, BusinessBeyondtheBox.com
Who Is the Target Audience for Your Big Goal?
Can you achieve your Big Goal all by yourself? The answer is no. So who do you need to affect, influence, or take with you to be successful?
The answer to this second key question will establish the target audience for your goal. It may include your boss, your coworkers, people on your team, people from other departments whose help you’ll need, or even people from outside your organization, such as shareholders, vendors, customers, or business partners. One of the biggest mistakes leaders make in this area is not thinking through all the people they have to lead to get where they want to go. You must do this in the same focused way that a marketer does when trying to identify potential customers.
The following People Map exercise will help you think through whom you need to reach to accomplish your Big Goal. We will come back to this map later in the book to make sure you’ve thought through everyone you need to take with you.
People Map Work Sheet
As you think about what you want to accomplish, identify the people you need to bring with you to achieve your Big Goal.
1. Using the map below, write your Big Goal in the center circle.
2. Identify the groups of people you need to bring with you to achieve your Big Goal, such as your team, stakeholders, customers, etc. Think broadly: Are other functions involved? Other companies? Other industries? Have you considered everyone you need to bring with you? Have you looked up, down, and sideways across the organization?