The 100-day dash to the holidays

Wednesday is the first day of fall. Yup, the kids are back in school and summer is coming to an end. Before you get lost in memories of those warm lazy days, consider this: Wednesday, September 22, marks the beginning of the 100-day dash to New Year’s Eve. Thanksgiving is just two months away and the holidays are three months. Your scoreboard for the third quarter is about to become a historical record of a win or a loss. All that remains is the final quarter of the business game.

Will you lead your company to wrap up 2010 with a major win? I’m not talking a “big” win. I’m talking about a major win. Think of a major win as the last game of the World Series where the players on the winning team are jumping all over themselves, high-fiving and generally acting like kids. There’s nothing like a major win to ignite the collective passion of an organization.

The last 100 days of the year offer up a unique opportunity. With New Year’s Eve as the target date, it allows you build a higher-than-normal sense of urgency around key goals and objectives. It doesn’t matter if the first three quarters of 2010 were lackluster or brilliant, this is the final quarter of the game and time for you and your team to go all out to end the year on the highest note.

Here are some no-compromise strategies to make your 100-day dash a game changer:

  • Go for the 20% or more: Every time I ask leaders if there’s another 20% growth waiting for them – if they go no compromise – the response is always a resounding “yes.” Unfortunately, the majority of those who believe it, rarely go for it. Now is the time to seize the moment.
  • What’s that 20%+ look like? People rally behind and fight for a cause. Get out a piece of paper or open a blank computer file and do a brain dump. Write down every thought about what that major win will look like on New Year’s Eve. Don’t just list the revenue goals and critical numbers, dig deep into what that win will mean to every individual in the organization. Maybe it’s job security, stomping on the competition, wowing customers, money for new equipment, etc. Don’t make it all about the money. Get the cause right and you’ll unleash the passion of your team. The money will come.
  • What does the thinking and behavior need to look like? Goals and objectives are nothing more than targets to hit or finish lines to cross. Major wins are the result of major efforts – coordinated and synchronized efforts. Show your team what the 20%+ looks like, then engage them in defining what the collective thinking and behavior of the organization needs to be. Remember, you’re starting the 100-day dash. That means rapid and efficient progress. Your team must “own” the thinking and behaviors needed to cross the finish line in style.
  • Cheerlead like you’ve never done before: The 100-day dash needs its leader out front waving the company flag – not stuck in the office doing business as usual. The 100-day dash is NOT a business-as-usual time. Be present every day to rally and support your team. Tighten the bond with your employees by playing and fighting to win alongside them. Let them see and feel your sense of urgency and your passion to win.
  • So what happens on New Year’s Eve? If you’ve played the game full out, the final days leading to the year’s end should be exciting and exhilarating. If you played the game full out, employees should be constantly checking the scoreboard. Be prepared to celebrate in some less-than-standard fashion. Have a victory party. Do high fives and “woo-hoos.” Give out goofy awards for things like best cheerleader, best above-and-beyond performance, or “so what if you had a little win rather than a major win – a win is a win.” Remember, it’s also a time for you and your team to finally take a breather and reflect on the last 100 days.

Here’s the best fact about winning the 100-day dash: You and your team got a taste of what it’s like to play the game full out. More importantly, the higher-level thinking and behaviors practiced during the dash had time to lock in. Now, it’s up to you to build and advance that thinking and behavior into 2011. No Compromise!

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click the Comment button above.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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