How to go from Last to First

How to go from last to first

We Red Sox fans have a reputation for being a bit – shall we say arrogant – but I think everyone will agree that the 2013 Red Sox symbolized the grit and resilience of one of America’s great cities during one of its most difficult moments. It overshadowed the fact that the Red Sox actually had gone from last to first.

As with sports teams, even the most dysfunctional businesses can reverse course and fully unlock the value of an organization but it requires a commitment to the same process applied to successful sports franchises.

  1. Focus on Building a Dynasty: Step out of your 12-month budget cycle and focus on what your business is capable of becoming.  Conduct an outside-in due diligence on your own business.  Identify a handful of key levers that will drive top and bottom-line growth over a three to five year timeframe.
  2. Develop a Game Plan and a Winning Roster:  With a strategic vision and your key initiatives in hand, build your Game Plan and “recruit” your roster for execution. To further the baseball analogy, you need to develop a game plan and a starting line-up game-by-game, inning by inning, pitch by pitch. Or in our world, your five year vision becomes a series of rolling 12 month integrated business plans, which cascade down to supporting 30-60-90 day objectives driven by daily P&L management.
  3. Establish your own “Sabermetrics”: To support your Game Plan, you will need to adopt formal program management tools, e.g. a PMO. And, you will need a system to monitor progress against targets – critical KPIs.
  4. Demand Results:  You’ve established your team by acquiring and retaining the best talent. Now you need to drive a results-oriented culture. Throw out old compensation models and adopt a system that supports your strategy. Demand accountability and set a striking example.

Rejuvenating financially troubled businesses or quickly achieving profitable growth in start-up and newly acquired companies is heavy duty stuff. But like the new baseball manager hired to turn-around a losing franchise, our job is to lead the radical cultural change that will enable our business to not only survive – but prosper long into the future. Trust me, you do not have three or even five years to transform your organization and unleash its full potential. The change process outlined above needs to start out fast and keep picking up speed.

So, how good is your game plan?  How talented is your starting line-up? The clock is ticking.

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