How Billion-Dollar Companies Plan for the Future

A photo by Alex wong.

This weekend I watched an hour-long talk Brian Tracy gave at a private event.

The event was Joe Polish’s Genius Network Event and Joe was kind enough to upload the full video to YouTube.

I don’t expect many of you to watch the full video so I figured I’d share my big takeaway from Tracy’s talk and save you some time.

Tracy’s talk was on how to build a successful business and he starts off by explaining that focus is the number one key to personal success.

Tracy believes that technology is wiping out an entire generation (looking at you, Millennials). He rips on smartphone addicts saying people addicted to their devices are like “an attention deficit disorder dog. Constantly ringing and responding to bells. Almost like a crazy person in a toy factory.” LOL.

The second key to success Tracy talks about is knowing when to think fast and when to think slow. “The biggest problem that people have is that where they should use slow thinking they use fast thinking, and entrepreneurs are extremely guilty of that,” says Tracy.

Tracy references Daniel Kahneman’s bestselling book Thinking Fast and Slow and explains when you should use fast thinking — situations with low or no potential consequences — and when you should use slow thinking — situations with high or long potential consequences — while offering some examples.

All these topics are worth spending some time on separately but today we’ll focus on just one of Tracy’s success tools.

In the video, Tracy explains how he teaches billion-dollar companies to plan their next 5 years. This is a strategy any entrepreneur or small business can use, says Tracy.

Here’s Tracy explaining the whole process:

When I do strategic planning for corporations, it’s a very interesting process. The first thing I do is I have them say, “Describe to me this company if it was perfect 5 years from now.” And I’ve done this with billion dollar organizations with all the key people around the table like this. And I’ll say, “Imagine that a leading business publication — WSJ, Times, Fortune, Forbes — was going to write an article on this company in 5 years. And they were going to send out their best reporters to fan out over the country. They were going to talk to customers and competitors, and staff and people and suppliers. And they were going to come back and say, “OMG, OMG, this is an incredible company. This is a fantastic company. This is the best single company in this industry.” And they’re going to write an absolutely glowing story on your company 5 years from now. The question is, if that was going to happen, what would you want them to say? And, we go around the room and we say, “What would people say if this was the greatest company in the industry?

‘Best products and services’
‘Incredible customer service’
‘Fantastic IT’
‘Great leadership’
‘Best place to work’
‘Finest working climate’
‘Attractive — best place for people to get jobs at’
‘Incredible marketing’
‘Great selling’
‘Very efficient’
‘High profit’
‘High stock price’

We go around the room and it’s almost like kids at Christmas — What do you want for Christmas? And every time I’ve done this, whether I do it in Russia with Sberbank, which has 22,000 branches and 165,000 people, or in London with Prudential, which has activities in 120 countries and $72 billion, whatever it is, they’re almost always like kids. And I write it down, write it down, write it down. I use a flip chart. And then at the end, when nobody can think of anything else to say to describe this company if it was incredible, I say, “Now let me ask you a question, is this possible?” And there’s always a stop— And they look around at all these descriptions and say, “Yes, not in a month or a year but in 5 years we could have the best products, and great leadership, and fantastic customer service, and great IT systems, and beautiful sales, and an attractive place to work, and the best training programs, and the best reputation in the industry, and high stock price, and increased profits. Everybody says, “These are all possible.” And then I say, “Well let’s organize them in sequence, what is an input, what is an output?”

The first input is really great products and services. So that’s something we need to focus on because that’s going to determine sales, profitability and stock price. What are the inputs and what are the outputs? That’s how we go around and create the strategic plan. And then we just walk through what are the operational steps we need to take to achieve this ideal description of this company in the future. And who is going to be responsible for each area and how we measure success in that area and what the schedule will be. And everybody who walks out of the two or three days is completely wired.

This process, which I just explained, which all of you can use — and you can even now probably teach it — really works like a damn. It is absolutely infallible. I had companies whose goal was to double sales in the next 5 years, and they increased their sales 500%. They called me up and they said, “You couldn’t believe it. Our goal was to go from 20 million to 40 million and we went to 105 million in 5 years with this stuff.” Because now they’re all thinking. And they’re all thinking with great clarity. And they’re all thinking long term. And we’re forcing them to think slowly through each of these key areas. These are the individual building blocks of great business success.

Nick Papple
Managing Editor
Success Formula Daily

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