03 Nov The End Point
The end point of the marathon is the end point. Every other point is secondary to achieving that outcome. Sure the 1km and 7km splits are important milestones to assess pace and stamina, but you don’t do a marathon for the splits. You do it for the end. As Jim Collins and Jerry Porras would say from their book Built to Last, this big, hairy, audacious goal pulls you forward. It is physically and emotionally compelling.
These BHAGs are created to focus an organisation on a single medium-long term organization-wide goal which is audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible. Kinda like a marathon?
The starting point for an organisational change project, is not ‘let’s do a change project’. Its ‘why do we need to change’ and ‘what do we need to change to’. Then we work back from there to work out ‘how do we best change to achieve that outcome’.
Why is this important? Too often large projects do not start with the end in mind. The outcome is not clear. It is not measurable. We start and we keep going but we don’t know when to end. We don’t know what constitutes success. We follow left to right thinking of inputs and deliverables out from the current state rather than right to left thinking of outcomes and measures back from the future state. We keep our heads down and don’t spend enough time upfront (and through the life of the project) being conscious of the changing environment in which we have to perform.
This is why large projects often fail. This applies equally to large contracts and contributes to the appalling statistic from the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management (IAACM) that ‘one third of business contracts fail to deliver expected results. In more complex areas such as outsourcing, up to 70% of agreements do not deliver the scale of benefits anticipated’.
I’m not sure you could follow this approach and successfully run a marathon. I’m not sure that you could follow this approach and successfully run a business. Being outcome focused is fundamental to both these activities. For me, everything flows from this end point. It anchors many of the consulting approaches that I will share in these posts, be it the operating model ‘diamond’ or ‘high performance teams’ or ‘generative listening’ or being a ‘trusted advisor’. It also anchors our personal ambition and commitment to the change. If we don’t know why we are doing it, why are we doing it?