Leaders are creative when it comes to big picture thinking. They also have the ability to get granular when it is time for execution. For any organization on a calendar year budget, this (November) is the time of year to start defining initiatives, goals, and the overall budget for next year. For those on other budget cycles, you have not forgotten how the process goes and the intensity needed to be thorough and get it just right. The budget process is just one example of where big picture thinking is needed to make the broad brush strokes, while we also have to drill down to the granularity to give authenticity to the big picture of where we want to be in the future. A plan is dead without the ability to execute, and execution is boring without creative/big picture thinking by every member of the leadership team, and as many others in the organization who are ready and willing to participate.
Leaders must continue to think big. While we can adjust our level of creative thinking to the current need, it must never stop. It is not something that can wait until a specific date, because ideas typically are not executed until long after inception. The majority of big ideas take years to execute. Rarely can you turn on the creative thinking 1-2 months before a plan is needed – especially one that determines the success of the organization. Big ideas and creative thinking are a constant responsibility of the Leaders in every organization. One great example, is that in my organization, we have an exciting new offering that has a chance of really making a difference in our success in 2012, however it has been an “idea” for 4 years. It took us that long to get it right, to understand the amount of investment it would take, to test the idea with customers/prospects, and then to get all the resources in place.
Waiting to think big is the same as waiting to grow. Less than 5-10 percent of our ideas have a chance of making it, so they do need to be numerous. When one materializes, it is time to hit the semi-pause (semi, because leaders should never stop thinking big) button, and get granular in defining what success will look like. The next step is to pull the right team together and turn the idea into reality. Then let the creative juices start flowing at full throttle again.
It may sound crazy, but the budgeting/planning process should be FUN!. Not just for planners, but for everyone, because it is the time when all the team’s big ideas that we have been testing and tweaking, actually end up being supported by a formal plan and goals. At this point, we are that much closer to realizing the results of what was once just an idea that seemed well out of reach, and sometimes even impossible.