We all have a vision of our future business. Too often, however, that vision is solely focused on some relatively far-off (5, 10, or even 20 year) end date. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have a long-range picture of where you want to take your firm. But you also need shorter, incremental objectives and key results (OKRs). If your long-term business goals are your destination, these are the logistical decisions for each leg of the trip that will speed-up and streamline your journey.
So as you’re thinking about the year ahead, take time to think about exactly what you want to accomplish. What things would you like to see different a year from now? And what will achieving those things do for you?
The following Outcome Frame™ is a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) tool designed to help you get really clear and grounded about what you want in the year ahead:
- What do you want as a final outcome? (Stated in the positive/moving toward)
- What will having that outcome really do for you and/or the company? What’s the purpose of your outcome? (Intent)
- How will you know when the outcome is successful? What will change and how will it show up? (Recognition)
- In what context do you want your outcome? (Where, When, How, Whom) When do you want results? Who will be working with you? How do you want to proceed?
- What effects will the outcome have on your organization, people, vendors, products, customers, etc.? Will getting your outcome serve you? (Ecology)
- Are there any blocks, challenges, organizational restrictions, etc. that would create difficulty to reaching your outcome? (Barriers)
- What resources do you have or need in order to get your outcome? (Capability)
- Is getting your outcome within your control? (Control)
Homing in on your true desired outcome
The true power of the Outcome Frame™ can be found in those first two seemingly innocuous questions. Why? Because the answer to Question #2 is in actuality the real answer to Question #1. Let me explain. Let’s say your desired outcome for the year in Question #1 is a 25% growth in revenue. When answering what that will do for you in Question #2, you respond that it will increase the value of your business. So, in fact, the real answer to Question #1 is not that you want to grow revenue; it’s that you want to increase your enterprise value. Revenue is one way to achieve that outcome, but it’s not the ONLY way.
When people use the Outcome Frame™ correctly, there’s a deeper conversation that ensues and you end up ideating on solutions that you otherwise might never have created. What you’re doing is pinpointing the TRUE outcome. We often get so laser-focused on wanting more assets or more growth, or a bigger team that we forget to ask why we want those things. What will having them actually do for us? You may actually be looking for something that’s right in front of you—you just don’t yet realize that it will lead to the outcome you desire.
A versatile tool
This outcome framing approach isn’t just a useful resource for focusing your strategic plan for the coming year, it can also be leveraged in a multitude of other critical areas of your business such as team development, client engagement, M&A, and succession planning. As you prepare for a hopefully less stressful and tumultuous 2021, take advantage of this time to better frame your desired outcome and explore the various obvious and not-so-obvious ways to achieve it.
Coaching Questions from this article:
- Thinking about your primary stated business goal(s) for 2021, what exactly will achieving that goal do for both the business and you personally?
- Considering all the various business, financial, and staffing levers at your disposal, how might those desired personal and business outcomes be achieved by other means?
- What other critical areas of your business might benefit from using this outcome framing approach?
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