Turning a 30,000-foot strategic vision into a 300-foot roadmap
From strategic vision to implementation via a Critical Few Workshop.
When you invest in a company you believe it’s a potential shooting star, the next big thing! Be it a start-up, early growth, growth, or mature stage, you are planning on a bright future. Plus, you’ve confirmed this understanding many times with the CEO and Board, and everything seems to be on track.
The big disconnect
As we have all experienced at some time, with the investment complete, a sigh of relief and then it happens, the bright star loses it glitter. During regular review meetings with your portfolio company it becomes clear that the management team isn’t meeting its financial commitments or growth objectives.
Not meeting expectations
Several questions running through your mind such as:
“What’s going on with this leadership team?”
“Why is the management team scattered?”
“Is there a major disconnect?”
“Am I going to ever see return on this investment?”
“Were we too aggressive in our thinking?”
When you invest in a portfolio company you invest in the promises of the management team. You assume the following:
- The management team has a vision for the future and the skill to navigate the turbulent waters ahead.
- The management team can successfully lead a fast-growing operation.
- The management team knows how to recruit, onboard, motivate and retain a team of top notch performers.
- The management team will honor its commitment to meet the financial performance required to satisfy investors.
- We believed that accountability was clear and embraced.
- Has “Tribal Knowledge” replaced best practice as a means of demonstrating quick results?
First, the bad news. As an investor, your hands are somewhat tied. You must trust in the power of the universe to deliver a positive outcome even though you can’t directly drive the process. It’s sort of like you are forced to sit in the back seat of a car while the leadership team swerves all over the road. What are options? Here are a few and they aren’t very attractive:
- You could limit or cut the gas money.
- You could possibly get a new driver.
- You could get out of the car and risk losing your investment.
- You can add features to the car to try and improve the vehicle — ignore the driver and focus on the vehicle.
Now here’s the good news
There’s another option. Getting you portfolio company investment on track and growing can happen quickly and be a positive experience for all. It’s called the Critical Few Weekend Workshop.
Arrow Up Partners facilitates a 2–3-day weekend workshop that gets the leadership team, trusted advisors, key management players and the investors into the same room to work a proven process.
The purpose is to identify the Current Operating Model articulate a Future Operating Model, a clear roadmap, and prioritized “Critical Few” initiatives to reach the future operating model.
Let’s level-set- there are two types of visionA strategic vision outlines what a company wants to be in the future. In our discussion, we are describing first the strategic vision and agreements between investors and the company leadership team — the 300,000-foot view.
Secondly, we have a workable, practical roadmap that moves the entire organization forward on a daily basis- the 300-foot view.
The Critical Few Weekend Workshop is the perfect solution
- Critical Few Workshops are a low time investment — preparation occurs over two days, workshop occurs over a weekend or a scheduled executive retreat
Delivers a Clear, Actionable, Operational Vision
- Extends the investor strategy into the actual implementation within the portfolio company
- Focuses on moving into a well-defined future not just an extension of the day-to-day⦁ Ties to the 300,000-foot vision
- Creates accountability, milestones and investment expectations
Supported by The Entire Organization
- Workshop includes key management team members who contribute and buy in to the 300 Foot Vision
- Brainstorming portion of the workshop produces advocacy and excitement
Let’s dig into this a little further. Naturally, the first order of business is to get a clearly articulated vision that everyone agrees with.
A proven process that increases the value of a portfolio company investment
We always start with the high-level strategic vision (30,000 ft. view)
What is the overall strategic vision of the business, its’ leadership and investors? Is there a long-term goal? Is there an exit planned? What are the personal desires of the business owners and their family members? This is the desired future position of the company. Starting at this point ensures that achieving success will be motivating to the organization and its stakeholders. This is the guiding light between investors and the business leaders, and for various reasons may or may not be shared with the rank and file.
Introducing the Current Operating Model and Target Operating Model (300 Ft. View)
Aligned at a high level, we are now able to activate the strategic vision, moving out of the stratosphere, landing it into the day-to-day operations — at a 300-ft. view. We begin by defining where we are and equally important where we want to be. If we don’t recognize our current location and clearly define our destination then back to the car analogy, although we may drive with enthusiasm we probably will end up somewhere else.
Next, we look at the life stage of a company and establish a realistic ending point
High Level strategic vision (30,000 ft. view) may take a company across multiple stages of the company’s life — From Start-up to Exit. That’s fine. Companies need to have a long-term view so they don’t get lost. Practically speaking, we need to break the strategic vision down into manageable segments to be implemented effectively.
For example, let’s look at the immediate needs of Start-up Company:
1. Secure their first customers.
2. Establish revenue.
3. Secure their “B” round of financing.
Talking about an exit to a startup is premature, and will lead to confusion, causing the company to swerve all over the road. Guided by the 300,000-foot view, Arrow Up Partners uses the Current Operating Model and Target Operating Model method to move the company from Start-Up to Early Growth Stage, a very important step for a company, and can be achieved with focus, resources, and accountability.
Current Operating Model and Target Operating Model
Prior to getting together in the weekend workshop, Arrow Up Partners work with the leadership team and investors to develop a pro forma snapshot of life today, the current operating model. This is the starting point.
Next, we define life in the future in the same pro forma format, informed by our 30,000-foot view and confirmed by data and market trends.
This becomes the target operating model. When we link the 30,000-foot vision to a 300-foot view it allows all stakeholders to understand the big picture while making progress on a day-to-day basis. This definition is the backbone of the Critical Few Workshop.
Getting the Team on Board
Once we have the Target Operating Model, we enlist the help of all to brainstorm ways to move from the Current Operating Model to the Target Operating Model. Usually 300 or more ideas are generated, in a lively discussion. It’s exciting to contribute ideas that could help the future of the company, and creates pride and a new sense of engagement. Recognizing the importance of involvement to generate ideas it is equally important to distill the ideas into what we label the “Critical Few” initiatives that close the gap between current and target operating model. These initiatives create accountability while recognizing the resources available.
With a clear vision, investors will see progress, focus and feel more confident in the management team
Now investors have more options and a better framework to work with their portfolio companies. In summary, the Critical Few Weekend Workshop by Arrow Up Partners could be a great vehicle to rapidly establish a clear, actionable, operational vision that is supported by the entire organization. This could be the basis for your portfolio company to become a shooting star, the next big thing
Want to learn more about Arrow Up Partners and the Critical Few Workshop?
Simply Download Our Overview E-Book that answers investor’s questions about the firm and the benefits of the proven Critical Few Weekend Workshop.