Long before he won 10 NCAA men’s basketball titles with his UCLA Bruins, Coach John Wooden developed his famous Pyramid of Success as a visual to instruct his players on how to win on the court and in life.
The “blocks” of Wooden’s pyramid were important attributes a winning player and a winning person must exemplify. The foundational bottom row included industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm—key characteristics everyone must embody. Stacked on top of these basics were upper-tier qualities such as self-control, initiative, skill, confidence and poise.
Wooden told his players to adopt each quality into their characters as they worked toward competitive greatness, which is the block at the top of the pyramid. Competitive greatness, in Coach Wooden’s mind, was reached when you were able to “be at your best when your best is needed.” To get there, he believed, you had to work through the blocks of the pyramid—and do so consistently.
This kind of road map to individual and team success has been the model for leaders attempting to push themselves and their organizations to reach the highest levels of achievement for decades. Simply put, you’re a lot more likely to reach your destination if you plot the course ahead of time.
Whether in the world of sports or business, a road map is vital to reaching a team’s full potential. A road map also allows a team to plan on managing future company growth and use it as leverage to move into new areas of business.
Since its creation in 2004, tech juggernaut and global sensation Facebook continues to take the market by storm, and with each passing year it shows no sign of slowing down. In 2014 alone, the company earned an incredible $12.5 billion.
Although business is presently booming, CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisions a future in which Facebook is a global leader in the next technological revolution—and he has a three-, five- and 10-year road map to get there.
“We’re going to prepare for the future by investing aggressively in it,” Zuckerberg said, as quoted in an article for Business Insider.
One of Zuckerberg’s major three-year goals is to continue investing heavily in video production (with services like Facebook Live). Over the next five years, he plans to build up the business acumen to connect billions of people with next-generation versions of Instagram, WhatsApp, Search and Messenger. Ten years from now, Zuckerberg hopes to have fundamentally changed the world with artificial intelligence and developed next-generation computing. Presently, Facebook has completed construction of Aquila—a solar-powered, unmanned drone capable of beaming down internet connectivity—as part of its Internet.org effort to connect even the most remote regions of the planet.
Instead of keeping the company’s ambitious goals confined to top executives, Zuckerberg has invited contribution and criticism from his employees by freely sharing Facebook’s road map. Such transparency is literally embedded in the company’s culture; at the company’s Palo Alto, California, headquarters, employees work in large open areas rather than being confined in offices, and boardrooms are encased in glass.
“We want to create this very open and transparent culture in our company where… everyone can see what everyone else is working on,” said Zuckerberg in a video tour of those offices. “We think that this facilitates this very open and transparent culture, which again enables us to do our best work.”
Creating a winner culture is a hallmark of all great teams. A great team outlines expectations for all members of an organization and for the organization as a whole. This clear-cut set of objectives—a road map—enables the organization to set benchmarks and goals and ultimately to lay the foundation for its own success.
A corporate road map should be nonnegotiable. That said, it should also be regularly revisited and updated due to the changing needs of the company and unexpected market forces. (Such is the nature of business.)
For Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, this re-evaluation process proved difficult, but necessary, in order to continue moving the company forward.
After joining Popeyes in 2007, Bachelder crafted a “Roadmap to Results” in an effort to turn the company in a more profitable direction. She structured her vision around the company’s four core business strategies: brand-building, running great restaurants, growing profits and accelerating new unit growth. For four years Bachelder and her leadership team were tenacious in the application of their plan, until a board member suggested that maybe she was missing a few items in her long-term vision.
Bachelder resisted the thought of shifting direction, but the feedback of the Popeyes board member was enough to prompt her to revisit her established road map. After careful analysis, Bachelder realized that they were, indeed, missing two important objectives: 1) a proposition centered on friendlier customer service and 2) a stronger approach to developing a people-centered culture.
With the Roadmap to Results updated and the two new focuses added, Popeyes grew its market share, improved guest ratings, and increased restaurant margins both in the states and abroad. In the past six years, the enterprise market cap increased from $300 million to more than $1 billion.
Bachelder says leaders must remain objective enough to acknowledge progress with a grain of salt and be willing to tweak their plans.
“The leader has a responsibility to come up above the trees periodically and refresh the vision and make sure they’ve looked at the landscape as if they’ve never seen it before.”
“The leader has a responsibility to come up above the trees periodically and refresh the vision and make sure they’ve looked at the landscape as if they’ve never seen it before,” Bachelder said in an interview with Leadercast Now.
Great teams who do this can manage adapting to change and updating the road map to compensate for the growing needs of the organization.
A road map gives a company a plan to achieve its collective goals.
A road map gives a company a plan to achieve its collective goals. This plan should both outline a capable vision of an organization’s future and anticipate how the company can achieve its goals.
A good road map increases efficiency and streamlines organizational focus through clarity. It outlines team members’ responsibilities and provides an opportunity to ingrain the organization’s culture into its workforce.
So how does a team build an effective road map? Leaders can start by identifying members of the team who can help with instituting the long-term goals. Dictating responsibility early will help a team stay organized during major initiatives. Next, management should identify the various goals the team is working toward. By determining which goals need their own clearly defined road maps, the leaders can then create daily steps toward achieving them.
Second, an organization must plan for detours along the way. Obstacles will happen—there’s no avoiding them—and management should plan for ways to continue moving forward. As Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen demonstrated, constant reviews and updates to the road map are inevitable and necessary when responding to the changing needs of the company.
Additionally, as Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has shown, leaders should take steps to ensure that the road map is ingrained at all levels of the culture so employees will be motivated by the direction of the team.
High-performing organizations have visionary, engaging road maps. These tools go beyond simple mission statements; they are active, clear and actionable objectives that lead to success. All employees understand the important components, know their places within the road map, and can take defined steps each day to achieve greatness together within their organizations.
Taken from Great Teams by Don Yeager. Copyright ©2016 Don Yeager. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson; www.thomasnelson.com.
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.