So, there you are.

Still laying in bed (why are you checking your email in bed) or sipping on a cup of coffee? Your belly is still full from Thursday. You made it. Congrats.

Now, the sprint till Christmas.

If you thought about your business today, perhaps you got up in the clouds where strategy lives. The conversations with your team over the last four to six weeks have gotten interesting. There are too many good ideas, and you have to decide the priority and focus for 2022.

There is a lot in there.

It’s a good thing Chris McChesney spoke at our Advance Leadership Workshop to help steer us in the right direction.

Each quarter, we bring in an action leader (thought leaders are nice … but don’t give you anything to go DO!) to present CEO and business owner topics to the entire Acumen community.

Chris is the lead author of the best-selling book on strategy execution, The 4 Disciplines of Execution. He is Franklin Covey’s Global Practice Leader and has led the development of these principles and consulting around the globe to hundreds of organizations.

In other words, Chris is kind of a big deal.

As I scoured my five pages of notes from the day, I was looking for that north star to help steer the ship in our own company as we ramp up planning. Here is where I landed.

“There will always be more good ideas than time to execute,” Chris said.

Darn right. All heads nodded as he said it, and all started to think about this year and everything we tried to accomplish. What did you begin strong in that faded for a lack of focus, time, energy, and accountability? Too many.

Hmmm. What to do for ’22?

One of the big ideas in 4DX is your day job of keeping the business going – called the whirlwind – is where you should spend 80% of your time and do it well. So many new ideas that come out of planning are optimizing and evolving the whirlwind.

This is necessary and good but won’t provide a breakthrough for the business.

Breakthrough: The Fewest Battles Necessary

“One of your best friends in strategy is simplicity.”

Chris is right. Simplicity is one of my best friends. I like to talk and think about simplicity, especially right now. But then we get into a room together, and there are just so many important things to do, and I don’t want to hurt any department’s feelings if they aren’t a priority as everyone is doing something important. So let’s do as many as we can. That will move us forward, and we’ll win!

That’s how we end up with a whiteboard full of ideas, with initials next to them and assigned to a specific quarter for completion. OK, team! Let’s get into the whirlwind!

Sound familiar? More of the whirlwind.

This year, let’s do something different. Let’s keep it simple. Choose one big wildly important goal that will create a breakthrough for your business.

How many “priorities” did you have in 2021? If you said more than one, then you didn’t have a priority.

What war do you want to fight in 2022? What one wildly important goal that, if you achieved it, would propel your company forward farther than anything else?

What would it look like if you focused on that one thing?

“But Dan, there are many facets of the company. So how can we focus on only one wildly important goal?”

You got to break down to a breakthrough.

What are the fewest battles necessary to win the war?

If you won the war that you defined during planning at the end of the year, what battles would you have fought to win? Of all those battles, what were THE most valuable battles that you had to win?

The whirlwind is real – and necessary. You need to do it well. But, without time spent on the important outside the whirlwind, your company will get a little better. By focusing on one wildly important goal, you can create a breakthrough experience that will propel your business forward in 2022.

Dan Cooper
Post by Dan Cooper
November 26, 2021
Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of the 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable and debt-free. Today, he is the CEO of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies. He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.