By NEIL BURROWS, Founder and Managing Director at SaturnFive® Consulting
“We choose to go the moon..” we have heard this a lot over recent days, President John F Kennedy’s rallying call that stirred a nation and mobilised a massive, combined and complex effort that put Apollo 11 on the moon 50 years ago this week.
Kennedy’s inspiring speech is a great example of how bold vision and clarity of mission can deliver incredible outcomes. Apollo 11 crew member, Mike Collins, said that, “it was powerful because it was so clear, the objective and the timeline left no room for debate or excuses.” The moon. By the end of the decade.
The rest is history, as they say, and we have seen the Apollo success celebrated across the world over the last week.
I have, just once, had the privilege to work in an organisation with such a bold vision and clarity of mission. Just once. Working for a brand that actually delivered what it set out to do and more. In that particular case the entire team; leadership, management, front-line, back office, partners and even suppliers were living the brand every day and in every decision along the way. It was hard-wired into all daily operations and communicated incessantly. Success was not down to clever strategy, technology and innovation – although we had some of this – but clarity of objective, aligned effort and rigorous execution. Politics, egos and personal agendas were not allowed to get in the way and were over-powered by the energy of an organisation centred around a common vision and the momentum of change.
But a compelling vision is only effective when married to a clear, detailed methodical plan and management framework. NASA had over 450,000 people directly involved in the moon programme and a vast array of stakeholders, partners and suppliers to manage. That needs quite a project plan!
In today’s fast-moving world, dynamic markets and economic uncertainty plans need to have built-in flexibility too. The ability to pivot – when things change, don’t go as planned, or when there are serious set-backs – is more important than rigid process, overly complex hierarchy and layers of authority.
At SaturnFive® when we work with organisations on strategic assignments, we create ‘The Flight Plan’ to guide client teams in executing plans and helping them to deliver in clear and practical ways. It identifies all actions, resources required, dependencies, responsibilities and timings so that they keep aligned, on-course and things happen. It breaks down what may seem like a monumental effort into short-term tasks helping to maintain momentum, demonstrate progress and grab quick wins while keeping the long term goals in focus. This combination of long-term vision and short-term action is vital for mission success – whether the mission be the moon or reaching an organisation’s desired goals.
So, you may be wondering what the brand was I worked with years ago – the one that had the bold vision that delivered above and beyond. Well, it wasn’t NASA but was a four-letter word.. Answers on a postcard to SaturnFive, Oxford Science Park, Oxford, England OX4 4GP 😉
SaturnFive Consulting works with organisations to develop and implement their strategy so that they are well placed to exploit the benefits of a changing marketplace in a fast moving world. If you would like to know more about SaturnFive’s strategic services and The Flight Plan then call us on +44 (0) 1865-950799 or visit http://www.saturnfive.co.uk
SaturnFive has offices in Oxford, Birmingham, London, Vancouver and Cape Town