It’s always good to think about an Impossible Future, whether in your first 100 days or beyond, because it is such a power vehicle for transforming an organization and achieving extraordinary and tangible business results.
First of all, an Impossible Future is the derivative of leadership that is authentic and passionate. An Impossible Future is a greater goal that connects everyone in the organization to a higher purpose and to higher performance. It is much bigger than the usual “self-serving” vision or mission statement like, “We want to be the number in the industry.”
For example, Ratan Tata, of Tata Motors in India, while driving through Calcutta, would often see families riding motor scooters with upwards of three to four people on a scooter. It was not unusual for these scooters to get into traffic accidents. One day, he declared he was going to build a car for $2500 or less, without even talking to his engineers. This Impossible Future in service of a cause became a powerful source of identify for everyone in the company, which later led to astronomical sales performance figures.
An Impossible Future is not just a “stretch goal” within the status quo – like moving from a $500 million company to a $billion company by doing the same thing better. An Impossible Future is a whole new possibility. It usually start with a declaration, like Steve Jobs made when he said he would change the world with the personal computer, or even taking a big bureaucratic organization and making it entrepreneurial and fleet a foot.
An Impossible Future almost always provides a whole new strategic framework that sets your organization apart for all the other “me too” competitors. It’s not about owning the market by claiming to be the biggest, as many banks have done and run right up through the financial crisis they helped to precipitate. It is about disrupting the market with a game-changing product or service, such as Mohammed Yunus of Grameen Bank did when he provided micro financing to people that big banks wouldn’t touch.
It’s important to keep in mind, that it is not just what an Impossible Future is (words on a flip chart or plaque on the wall), it is what an Impossible Future does in terms or raising the aspirations and motivations for everyone in an organization.
Imagine the engineers at Henry Ford’s auto plant trying to design an assembly line that would enable the company to mass produce cars, cars that they themselves could buy. Imagine the scientists working at Los Alamos New Mexico on the Manhattan project to build a bomb that would stop the Nazi menace and put an end to militant Japanese imperialism. Imagine the design engineers at Apple working all night long to figure out the design for the iPhone that would be totally irresistible.
What is your Impossible Future and how will it change the world?