Shannon Susko, two time CEO, Scaling Up Coach, and best-selling author has never had a crystal ball. After starting her first company, Paradata, back in the mid-90’s, however, she and her team realized that they could really use one.
“Paradata was born because we had raised $20M to expand in the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Data space”, Shannon told me recently. “At the time we had a wide open market, and our investors had very high expectations.”
But she and her team of co-founders had a problem. “With all that capital behind us, we needed to show ROI. We kept showing up at Board meetings, however, and not being able to execute the plan. We had a Strategy. We had done a lot of work in that arena using tools from Jim Collins and Michael Porter but implementation of that plan was falling behind. And we only had so much runway.”
So, she and her team took a step back. They came up with the initial 3HAG (3 Year Highly Achievable Goal) concept of swim lanes, planning out their Execution by mapping out the key milestones and differentiating activities quarter by 90 day quarter. Then, they assigned accountability for each swim lane to each team member. Not an easy thing to do initially, as Shannon shares.
“There’s a lot of whiteboarding and discussion. And you need to make sure that everyone is focused on the three year outcome – and – commits to the schedule. But, it worked!”
The good news? She and her team accomplished the plan, delivered on investor expectations, and sold the company in 2006.
When she started up Subservo two years later, she and her co-founder decided to double-down. Could they make this business customer-funded? “In other words, were we confident enough in our 3HAG and swim lane process that we were willing to bet the farm?”
They were and they did! Over the next three years they delivered on their plan, quarter after quarter, ulimately getting a 9x ROI for their investors. Once again proving the model. And giving them something as close to a crystal ball as you can get in the real world.
“The great thing about 3HAG is that it builds predication into your process,” says Shannon. “It’s similar to how Olympic athletes train. They “map out” their plan to get ready for competion over multiple years. It you want to win medals, that’s what you need to do. We’ve just applied the same concept to business and growing a company.”
Want to learn more about Shannon’s journey?
You can start by picking up a copy of her best-selling book, “The Metronome Effect” or her most recent publication, “The 3HAG Way”. Then, join us on the morning of November 8th with your team for a half day workshop and learn from her up close and personal! And, get your own crystal ball!
Create a Three Year Strategy the positions your company for sustainable and predictable growth, develop a roadmap for your vision that’s “implementable” AND get your team aligned and on board.
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With over 30 years of experience, Cheryl Beth partners with small and mid-market CEO’s and C-level executives to create more valuable and sustainable companies. She has led strategic change initiatives, provided business advisory and coaching services to hundreds of small and mid-market companies and focused on providing a return on investment to every CEO with whom she has worked. Questions about how you can scale your business? Connect with Cheryl Beth on LinkedIn and drop her a message, she’s happy to offer some guidance.