Enlighten, inspire, and learn to build a culture of innovation that disrupts your industry.

The 'Short Pass' Approach to Winning in Business

Share this article

The long bomb is one of the most exciting plays in football.
Lofting a well-placed ball into the hands of a receiver streaking down the
field can instantly change momentum and turn a losing effort into a dramatic
win. But is it the best strategy for reaching
the goal line?
In 2012, NFL quarterbacks collectively attempted more than
19,000 passes. Of these, only 175 traveled far enough through the air ' 45
yards or more from quarterback to receiver ' to be considered a long bomb. Of
these, only 48 resulted in completions, for a success rate of less than 30%.
(Stats courtesy of www.grantland.com)
Coaches understand that, when successful, long passes can
lead to game-changing outcomes. But they also understand that moving their team
down the field with short controlled passes will get them into the end zone
much more consistently. Which is why more than 68 percent of all NFL passes
target receivers either behind or within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
It's the same way in business.  If you attempt to go
from your own 20-yard line to the opponent's goal line in one fell swoop, it
almost never succeeds. But adopting a strategy of short, consistent gains will
greatly increase the odds of getting there.
The process I recommend for implementing such a strategy is called
'breakthrough modeling.'  It involves setting a transformational goal (the
destination) for the organization, one that will add value to your customers in
ways that put you in a market leadership position. Then create a framework of
measured action steps to get there, mapping out quarter by quarter what it will
take to achieve interim destination points along the way.
The process starts with evaluating the gaps between your
current reality and the ultimate transformational destination. Then identify what
you will do incrementally different to achieve your goals.
  • What will happen in the next three months to make progress?
  • What operating goals and strategies can you achieve in that
  • What capabilities must be in place to support getting there?
  • Consider how much change the organization can productively
    manage and absorb during this timeframe, and what it will take to increase
    skills, knowledge or competency levels. If systems or new processes need to be
    created, what is a realistic timeframe for doing so?
  • Next, identify what you will do substantially different
    to achieve your goals.
  • What will happen after the first three months and prior to
    your first nine months of progress?
  • What operating goals and strategies can you achieve in that
  • What capabilities must be in place to support getting there?
  • Finally, identify what you will do that begins to achieve
    the transformational goals you set.
  • What will happen after the first nine months of progress?
  • What operating goals and strategies can you achieve in that
  • What capabilities must be in place to support getting there?
  • Keep in mind that most plans look good on paper, but they
    almost never unfold as expected. So let your plan sit for a day or two. Then
    revisit it and ask the following questions:
  • How often have our plans worked out as intended?
  • Does this plan rely on things occurring exactly as we
    anticipate? If not, what contingency plans do we need to have in place?
  • Is the plan created so that we can take advantage of new
    market developments, including unexpected opportunities?
  • Do we have a process in place for monitoring the marketplace
    so that we can adjust when necessary?
  • How will we make regular reality checks of what's going well
    and what isn't?

Even the best-laid plans and goal setting processes won't
make a difference if you fail to act on them. So keep the focus on taking
action and holding people accountable for what they need to do at each step
along the way.  Check in at least every three months to reassess the next
three and modify as necessary.
Finally, I want to make it clear that breakthrough modeling
is not about settling for incremental innovation.
To the contrary, it's all about setting audacious, transformational goals that
can redefine your industry. All breakthrough modeling does it break the process
into short, manageable passes with high completion rates to make it easier to
reach the goal line.
There's a time and a place for incremental innovation. But
if you really want to win in today's markets, you had better aim high ' and
then use short, controlled passes to get there. In honor of Sunday and Monday
Night Football'
Call to action: Dust off your current strategic plan and
review the incremental, substantial and transformational steps you need to get
This post was brought you by InnovationExcellence,
the online home of the global innovation community, building a growing network
with thousands of members from over 175 countries ' thought leaders,
executives, practitioners, consultants, vendors, and academia representing all
sectors and industries. Its mission is to enhance innovation by providing a
forum for connection and conversation across this community.
Like this topic?
Attend BEI Back End of Innovation 2013 with
InnovationExcellence in Santa Clara, CA in November! Learn more about the event
here: http://bit.ly/1bCAslh
About the Author: Holly
is the CEO of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. (www.TheHumanFactor.biz) and is a highly
sought after and acclaimed speaker, business consultant, and author.

Share this article

Upcoming event

FEI USA: Front End of Innovation

08 - 10 Dec 2020, Boston, MA
Go to site