As CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute, Rich Horwath has spent the past 20 years helping world class companies identify their business goals and develop strategies for achieving them. From Pfizer, to Kraft and Motorola, Horwath has helped his clients gain competitive advantage, increase revenue, and hone their employees’ abilities to think strategically on a daily basis. Yet throughout his work, he noticed a recurring pattern: while his clients put enormous amounts of energy into ensuring the success of their business, they paid little mind to their own personal fulfillment.
Then, in 2010, he read a Harvard Business Review article based on Clayton Christensen's commencement speech given at the Harvard Business School, called "How Will You Measure Your Life?" It became the most popular article of the year, and remains one of HBR’s most-read articles to this day. For Horwath, the article‘s resonance indicated a gap: That while executives doggedly pursued business success, many were struggling to find fulfillment in their lives. He asked himself, could strategy bridge this gap? If executives used strategy to create successful businesses, could they use it to create successful lives?
Horwath conducted research in conjunction with Harris Interactive, and found that the practice doesn't cross over. Based on a study of more than 300 Fortune 1000 executives, he found that while 82 percent had a written strategy for their business, only 22 percent had a strategy for themselves. It became clear that while the majority of people working in business understand the inherent need for strategy in achieving goals, the majority of them are not applying these same principles in their own lives.
Horwath seeks to address this disconnect by applying the language of business strategy to achieving personal goals. He challenges businesspeople to ask themselves two questions:
1. What would be the greatest day of my life?
2. How would I get there?
Using the metaphor of a bridge, Horwath shows how we can use strategy to get us from where we are to where we want to be–to the greatest day of our lives.
Discover: Selecting your bridge’s location. Just as you can’t build a bridge without first determining the starting and finishing points, you can’t build a strategy for your life without understanding where you’re starting from and where you want to go. The Discover step is the process of uncovering your purpose–what you want and why. Purpose takes the form of a mission, a vision, goals and objectives.
Differentiate: Imagining your bridge's style. Bridges come in all shapes and sizes, from small, wooden covered structures to shiny, sweeping waves of metal. Their differences begin in the mind of the designer. The Differentiate step requires you to identify the unique characteristics of your personal bridge. These elements include your individual combination of strengths, weaknesses, background and abilities that set you apart from the pack. To differentiate means to deviate from the norm in ways that people value.
Decide: Choosing your bridge’s materials. Before a bridge can be built, the designer must decide which materials to use, based on functional needs, the size of the span to be crossed, and desired aesthetics. All these choices require trade-offs. The Decide step involves the process of allocating your resources-time, talent, and money-to achieve your goals. The act of deciding requires you to make trade-offs, choosing what to do and what not to do.
Design: Building your bridge. It’s one thing to think about a bridge. Its another to actually build that bridge. While natural bridges like logs over streams exist, the majority of functional bridges are man-made. The Design step asks you to develop an action plan that will help you reach the goals you've set, using the appropriate resources. Just as a designer creates a blueprint for a bridge, we can design a "strategyprint" for life.
Drive: Crossing your bridge. Once the bridge has been designed and built, the true test begins. Can you move across this bridge, from one side to the other? A bridge that looks good but crumbles when used is of little value. The Drive step guides your actions and moves you forward on a daily basis according to the strategy you have designed. It includes the ability to execute your plan without becoming distracted and taken off task by “urgent” but unimportant things that eat away at your time.
Horwath has put this personal "strategyprint" into Strategy For You. You can download the first chapter for free by clicking here.