What Mike Tyson Understands About Strategic Planning That You Don’t

Mike Tyson strategic planning

Mike Tyson once famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

This is absolutely true about strategic planning. It all looks good on paper until you get back into the real world. Then, all of your planning goes out the window.

That’s why you build a strategic plan that looks beyond today’s punch in the mouth, and sees 10-20 years into the future (and all points in between) at a future date when you won’t even remember today’s punch.

Following is the basic layout that every strategic plan needs to follow.  Make sure you have each category covered.

  1. Find your BHAG
  2. Set five-year goals
  3. Set one-year goals based on your five-year goals
  4. Choose quarterly goals
  5. Set personal accountabilities

1. Find your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

The BHAG (a coin termed by Jim Collins of Good to Great fame) is a dream goal that’s a long way out.  Ideally, your BHAG should be 10 to 20 years in the future.

A good BHAG forces to you let go of things today that are holding you back from getting there.  Let’s say your BHAG is to be the world’s biggest consolidator of independently-owned widget factories.  Should you then buy that string of tanning salons when they come up for sale?

You have to then ask, “Will this decision move us towards or away from our BHAG?”

The BHAG doesn’t change based on the crisis of the moment.  It hangs out there. Your 10-20 year dream.  It rallies the troops and drives you to greater achievement.

For more detail on the BHAG click here: https://www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/resources/how-to-discover-your-organizations-big-hairy-audacious-goal-or-bhag/

Mike Tyson’s BHAG was to be the heavyweight boxing champion of the world!

2. Set 5-year goals

Next, you move to your five-year goals.  Five years is a long way into the future.  Anything could happen in the next five years, good or bad.  We could finally figure out cold fusion, or we could all be living in caves.  No one knows.

The function of the five-year goals is to make a midway point between the BHAG and today.

So, you imagine yourself sitting in a room, five years in the future, writing an answer to these questions:

What has happened in our organization that has made the last five years so exciting?  What big things have we accomplished (under 5) that have significantly moved us toward achieving our BHAG?

Maybe when Mike Tyson was 15, his 5-year goal was to be boxing on the world stage.

Write them down, but choose no more than five.

3. Set 1-year goals based on your five-year goals

Now that you know where you want to be in 10-20 years and have broken that down to the next five years, ask yourself a new question:

What do we need to accomplish in the next 12 months in order to make serious headway towards achieving our five-year goals?

Involve your team in choosing what they are.  Write all of their ideas on a flipchart.  Let everyone vote.  Take the winning votes and debate about who is right and who is wrong.

By the way, your strategic plan is all about having unfiltered conversations like these.  There’s no magic in putting something on paper.

Write down your one-year goals.  Choose no more than five of them.

4. Choose quarterly goals

Now, this is getting real. The question to ask the group in this category is, “What do we need to accomplish in the next 90 days if we’re going to reach our one-year goals?”

For Mike Tyson, his quarterly goals could have been increasing the speed of his jab, increasing his endurance, working on his footwork and dodging abilities.

Write them down. Read them out loud. Put them on an easel.

There are too many goals on your flipchart for the team to engage in. The next step makes it really personal!

5. Set Personal accountabilities

Now, ask each member of the team to write down no more than three items that they need to focus on in order to achieve our quarterly goals. Ask each person to read them out to the team.  Invite comments from the team about the relevance of the goals chosen. Did anyone miss anything? Did they choose too many? Are their goals too lofty, or too easy?

Agree on what they are.

Now you have a beautiful and very simple core of a strategic plan for your organization.  Everyone knows where you need to be in the long term, (10-20 years) in the medium term, (five years) in the short term, (one year) and right now.  As in, what are you going to do tomorrow?

Now it’s your job to review the goals weekly with the team and reset the quarterly goals in 90 days.  It really isn’t difficult.

And finally a quote from a more eminent statesman than Mike Tyson:

“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – General Dwight D. Eisenhower

In summary:

In order to build a proper strategic plan:

  1. Find your BHAG
  2. Set five-year goals
  3. Set one-year goals based on your five-year goals
  4. Choose quarterly goals
  5. Set personal accountabilities

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on what Mike Tyson understands about building a strategic plan that you don’t.  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

Ask the new guy about strategic direction https://www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/tips/ask-the-new-guy-about-strategic-direction/


Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com

For more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068

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