The Power of the Three Year Picture

I find that many clients misunderstand the real power of the three-year picture.  They’re not wrong. They just need to adjust their scope to fully leverage its value.

What is it and what is it NOT?

Simply put, it’s not a “plan.” It’s a picture that sets the stage for where your company will be in three short years. Using colorful words and concepts in the bullet points, employees can see the three-year picture in their minds. They become inspired and motivated to be part of it. And when they’re inspired, excitement emerges and momentum begins to build. That’s what you want: Excitement and momentum pushing towards what’s “possible.”

How does it fit into the EOS process?

The three-year picture is a simple but powerful part of the EOS process. It’s on the Vision side of the V/TO. In fact, it’s the last section on the “Vision” side before moving to the “Traction” side. It will lead to more specific initiatives that will turn into IssuesGoals and Rocks. It helps inspire what’s possible and then leads the initiatives that will bring your Vision to life!

It’s ok to stay high level

We preach the discipline of setting SMART/tangible goals throughout the EOS process, but…I would argue that getting too SMART within the three-year picture can take away from the energy and excitement you want to create.  Stay out of the weeds. Instead, plant some seeds and allow everyone to experience the excitement of growing those seeds.

For example, you may be inclined to communicate your plan to grow your company by 25 people within the next 3 years: 7 in sales, 12 in operations, 3 in finance and 3 in marketing. That could be inspiring, but be careful about diving too deep into the weeds. Don’t hold yourselves to specifics you may not adopt. Too many details can overshadow the main message.

Instead, a powerful message could be that you expect to double in size and will need good people, advancing in their careers to help support that growth. This can be an exciting opportunity for everyone when they can insert themselves into the picture!

Here are three important points to remember about the three-year picture:

  1. A picture must come first. A solid plan to support it comes next. The one-year plan supports the three-year picture.
  2. The three-year picture is about creating excitement and energy. The most successful companies are the ones that can create a three-year picture that tells a story.
  3. If you can see it, you can create it. Employees can close their eyes and see it, which creates buy-in, excitement and RESULTS.

I challenge you to review your VT/O and examine your three-year picture. Is it truly a picture, or is it a plan? If it’s a plan, what steps will you be taking to paint the picture?

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EOS Worldwide

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