Set Priorities that Stick

4 Steps to Unleash SaaS Momentum

4 Steps to Setting Priorities that Stick

Many CEOs and Founders have a clear vision in their mind, and fail to clearly communicate the headlines and get the message muddles highlighting footnotes in their visions. Clarifying the vision for the entire team and setting clear priorities has to be job #1 for leaders to unleash SaaS momentum.

Follow these 4 steps to unleash SaaS Momentum with a clear vision and priorities.

1 - Step 1: Clarity is the only goal; Dumb it down for your team

Self-actualize you, the founder/CEO, are the smartest person in the room and it’s your job to set direction.
It can’t be your job to educate the team on the intricacies of your vision

Recognize that you are the visionary founder that inspires customers, employees, and investors. You eat, drink, sleep, and live your vision every moment of every day. You deeply understand the intricacies of your vision, the customers’ needs, competitors’ relative strengths and weaknesses, and can see around corners to improve every decision the organization needs to make.

You need to dumb it down. The delicate lattice of interdependencies and a series of 3rd to Nth degree ripples in your mind is a confusing, jumbled, and distracting set of everchanging ideas, directions, and priorities to your team.

The first step here is one of self-actualization. By consistently stepping in to make better decisions you unknowingly undermine your team’s confidence and ability to act independently. If you find yourself not trusting your team, you either need a new team, but in all likelihood you are unwittingly undermining their effectiveness by getting into the weeds.

Instead of focusing on what could be better, ask is it good enough for right now?

Step 2: Write your vision down

If there isn’t one succinct document with the vision, the vision is ephemeral and constantly changing.
Put a stake in the ground for right now

Writing down a 3 to 5 page vision for the future will have two direct impacts to your organization

  • The process of organizing your vision will distill it down and bring it into sharper focus. This will clarify what are the musts in your vision vs. what are shoulds and clouds. Impurities and distractions should be removed so the core vision is all that remains

  • This vision document will then become the core to organize the leadership team and broader team. Company values, 3 years goals, and strategic investments become easier to communicate, and execute as they are all in service to the one vision.

If you need more help, Cameron Herold’s, Vivid Vision: A Remarkable Tool For Aligning Your Business Around a Shared Vision of the Future is a remarkable resource.

Step 3: Decide on imperfect indicators

Pick the best imprefect indicators when your vision is realized in 10 years;
the pick your 3 year, and in 1 year indicators

In line with your new staked out vision, what are the 3 or fewer concrete KPIs in the 10 year, 3 year, and 1 year timeframes that will best measure if your vision is being achieved. These KPIs should be consistent measures, e.g. Active Customers, Active Users, Market-share, ARR, NRR, NPS, and be aspirational over the long term, and more achievable in the short term.

These 2 or 3 KPIs will provide mileposts out into the future on the “why” we are making tradeoffs to ensure we are on track to meet the long term vision’s promise.

Step 4: Unleash leaders to sprint forward

Break the 1 year indicators into short term objectives & KPIs, give each to 1 and only 1 person to drive forward

With the long term KPIs cemented now it is time to focus on how you achieve your one year goal. Now is the time to empower your leaders to plan how they will achieve the 1 year KPIs in a series of 12-13 week sprints. Each sprint will have clear objectives (contributing to the KPIs) with one primary key result, with up to 2 additional balancing results.

These clear objectives will become the company priorities so teams can “run” towards these goals having confidence that these priorities are contributing to the 1 year KPIs, and the strategic vision. Most importantly when held for 12-13 weeks it empowers the team to say “no” to many shoulds and coulds to guarantee the delivery of the “musts”

Assign one and only one owner to each company priority. Resist assigning a priority to everyone so no one feels left out. Priorities may change every 12 - 13 weeks, and owners of priorities can change as well. Acknowledge left out leaders and departments still have their day jobs, but the focus of the company won’t be on their jobs for the next dozen+ weeks.

If you need more guidance on implementing these steps, please visit midstage.org/unleash for resources, podcasts, or a conversation.
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