Be Real, but also be inspiring in planning

Greetings from Bristol, once a central port city to the old European Slave trade. Today, it’s a nice British town with a vibrant college feel.

I’m here for an executive planning session. That means a lot of staring at spreadsheets and engaging in “street (US) / “city” (UK) talk about the company. I’m pretty comfortable with it having been involved in one IPO and many M&A transactions.

However, when planning, I’m more interested in the “inspirational” elements. The reason for our plan can’t just be explained on a spreadsheet or a powerpoint presentation. I want to be part of something BIG — something bigger than me. I want to disrupt or change or contribute. And I want to take my people with me.

Of course, a company needs to create shareholder value, but the story has to be more compelling than that. Good financials should be a NECESSARY mean to accomplish a greater end.

If people are inspired, they will be more engaged, more invested, more creative, more motivated. Cross check the planning in context of a story. How interesting is it? So what? Does it get people’s attention?

Be real, but also be inspiring. That’s what an executive needs to be.