Failure to Launch
Why You Should Start with the End in Mind
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” – John F. Kennedy
In a few short statements, President Kennedy brought life to the phrase “Moon shot.” For those who heard his voice it was clear what he intended and his ability to paint a clear picture of where he wanted to be made it easier for a nation to coalesce behind him.
While the major brush strokes were clearly put on the canvas, Kennedy had no intention to fill in or even predict the finer details:
- Land a man on the Moon
- Return him safely
- Complete it by December 31, 1969
Thus, while anyone working on the initiative could determine if their activity or decisions were in support of meeting the overall objectives, nobody expected all the details or potential surprises to be known in advance that day in May 1961.
One of the more common items that prevents implementing strategic objectives or major initiatives is a company’s ability to effectively start with the end in mind. If you consider the hundreds of individual decisions each employee makes daily, an inability for them to clearly align those to where you want to be will almost certainly undermine any efforts and, in many cases, makes the situation worse.
We’ve all experienced the strategic imperatives that haven’t gotten off the launch pad. Many reasons are often cited to explain why organizations fail to provide the necessary picture for where they want to be:
- Assuming what was provided is enough and everyone “gets it”
- Worrying that the future can’t be predicted, and it would take too much time
- Fearing a lack of external control or available information
- Focusing on the gaps and what should be included
While on the surface these may seem logical points, they really are not and those that have succeeded do not subscribe to them. If you feel something is strategically important enough to garner your organization around it, then it warrants the clarity it deserves. This might seem like a difficult thing to accomplish but it isn’t as hard as you might think.