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February 19, 2006

From what's Predictable to what's Possible

I've long used a model when asked to forecast out results called the "Predictable/Possible Model". It's pretty simplistic. It allows you to bracket a kind of worst case/best case scenario. It's easiest to use with sales organizations but you can really use it organizational wide. The "predictable" piece is the easiest to model. It's what I call the accountant approach, where you simply look back in time, see what you've always done in terms of results and then mathematically model out to the future what you most likely (predictably) will produce moving forward. Not a lot of inventiveness there. The harder part is trying to determine what's "possible". Here's where you run into problems, everyone thinks different about the future, always different tolerances of risk, different motivations, yada, yada, yada. The main premise of creating what's possible in terms of producing a future result is an old cliche - "thinking out of the box". Some companies do it well, others kill creativity. Most organizations have adopted the term "setting a stretch target" to try to break out of predictable pattern. Whatever the case, it's really about doing things differently, things you haven't done before, on a day to day basis to create a different result or set of results. Not abandoning how things have been done in the past, but adding in new dimensions to create a unique set of actions and therefore creating a different - UNpredictable - result. In a lot of start ups, organizations that are blazing new territory where "it's never been done before", you're always trying new things, adjusting the model. Of course it's a bit uncomfortable, breaking new ground, so you always need people that are comfortable being uncomfortable. One given of breakthrough performance, achieving what's possible instead of what's predictable, is that inevitably you will fall short of whatever goals you set (hopefully these goals are big, bold and bodacious). And what's the secret formula of achieving those stretch goals? When you do hit a wall, fall short, FAIL; that you NEVER lose sight of the stretch goal - NEVER. That you rally in a way that you've never rallied before. And how do you do that? Through conversation and exploration. You have conversations that you've been reluctant to have, you have more conversations than you've ever had in the past, and you have a different tenor to your conversations. In the end, if you're up for producing what's possible rather than what's predictable, it's how you react to failure and the future, rather than the past, and the failure itself.

February 19, 2006 in Business | Permalink


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Don't forget to rally!

Posted by: Christine | Feb 20, 2006 11:58:17 AM

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