Is there a framework to ensure successful campaigns? One of my cricket mates, who was newly appointed captain of the league team some years ago, approached me for a tip on how to plan to win the championship that season.
My advice was simple. I told him to imagine that he was going out to the toss in the championship game. For that game, I asked him to pencil in the team that would give him the best chance of winning that game.
In other words, I was making him think of the finals – the championship game, the goal – and then work his way backwards.
In a competition, one part is about your own team. The other part is also about who you expect to encounter in that game. So there is more to it than just your preparation. But as a general framework, you can follow certain steps to ensure successful campaigns no matter what the undertaking is.
Here are four advanced tips to ensure success in whatever campaign you choose to run:
a. Begin from the end
Once you know your goal, you can then assess the gap between the goal and the current situation. Take some time, soak in the feeling, imaging you have reached the goal. Think of what it would be like and then work out how to get there.
Next thing to do is to lay out milestones. For each milestone, assess the effort required to reach it, the costs and the time it would take.
It helps to check out your “milestone-list” with someone more experienced or a mentor. That way you are re-assured that traversing on the milestone path that you’ve laid out will help you reach your goal with certainty. This gives you the confidence. So when you lay it out for your team, the confidence you project makes it easier for them to trust you.
Whether it is planning an event that will take place within a month, acquiring a business that may take 6 months or aspiring for an advanced degree that would take years, you can deploy this framework.
Stringing together a bunch of mini milestones helps you achieve the big one. Once you lay out the tasks/milestones logically, then it is a matter of mechanical execution in most cases. Where there is interaction or conflict (such as in competitive pursuits) then you will have to check the outcomes and adjust next steps accordingly.
b. Consider everything that must go right and nurture those key success factors
As with most initiatives, you are aiming for certain things to happen. List these. If you must get a certain price for materials, complete certain things by a certain date or ensure that a certain player is signed up for your team, you need to know these. If you need to pass a certain threshold to qualify for the next step, you have to list this threshold. Then you need to do everything in your power to ensure that can comfortably cross the threshold.
Once you know these, you can then lay out steps and the strategy to achieve these.
Keep in mind that you can only control the controllable. As an example, if your event is to be held outdoors and good weather is a must for the event, understand that you cannot control it. Everything else that you diligently prepared for the even would go to waste, if the uncontrollable can mess things up.
c. Make a list of things that can go wrong, and put mitigating steps to manage those risks
List those things that can go wrong. Pick the serious ones please. And estimate the likelihood that these risks will materialize. Then have an alternative plan for those risks. Uncontrollables, such as the weather in the previous example, fall into this category.
The legendary Steve Jobs would have a trolley with a laptop and projector setup and ready to go for all his product launches. It did not matter which auditorium he was going to use for his product launches. But he always made sure that his Plan B, the trolley, with everything in it ready to go, was always at hand. He knew he could not control the systems in the auditorium. He, however, mitigated that risk, by ensuring his alternative arrangement was sound and effective.
d. Identify the “core” team and the MVP that will help your team achieve success in the campaign
This is the race-horse in your team or the super-arrow in your quiver. In Hindu mythology such a weapon was called the Brahmastra – a weapon that would never fail, and against which no defense would work.
Just imagine, if you had such a weapon in your campaign. No defense would work against the weapon and it would vanquish anything and anyone that stood between you and your success.
Make sure you can identify this weapon and build the core team around this nucleus.
Your campaign will surely be successful.
Image: (c) Commons.wikimedia.org. Author: Steffen Flor
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