Strategic Planning: It’s Elementary

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(Bragging Father’s Note: It’s worth pointing out that our son was non-verbal just a couple years ago. We never cease to be awed by his progress, his mind and the patient guidance he receives from his teachers, therapists and classmates.)

The morning after I’d gotten back from speaking to a group of not-for-profit organizations, Will said to me:

“Daddy, you should come speak to my class.”

“Will, what should I talk about?”

“I don’t know. Rachel’s mom talked about Hanukkah. Do you want to talk about Hanukkah?”

“Probably not, buddy.”

“Okay. You think about it.”

So I did.

Listen, I’ve spoken on a stage in front of more than a thousand people, and it didn’t produce more than a flutter of anxiety, but at that moment – trying to imagine holding the interest of a group of forty discerning elementary school students – I nearly soiled one of Baby Sarah’s diapers.

How could I engage them?

Well, with storytelling, I suppose. It’s kinda what I do.

So I thought about every Pixar movie we love and deconstructed a simple, foolproof method for inventing any story that I could then teach to the children.

I think. It’s seemed foolproof. It worked on my son. But – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this – he’s alarmingly and unfairly intelligent. And handsome.

Daddy’s Fool-proof, Sure-fire, Rock-solid, Lots-of-hyphens Storytelling Formula

Answer these questions:

  1. Who’s your story about?
  2. Is anybody with them? Who?
  3. Where are they going?
  4. Why?
  5. Is there a bad guy?
  6. Who?
  7. What’s in their way?
  8. Why?
  9. How do they get around it?
  10. How do they live happily ever after?

Go ahead, try it. Tell me you couldn’t write a great story following that formula.

Oh, and tell me also – isn’t that pretty much strategic planning? Couldn’t you use it to simplify the problems facing your business? Try it the next time your worries get too big.

Yesterday, I shared a part of a presentation called Strategic Planning Made Simple.

I think Will and I have developed our next presentation. We’ll be coming soon to an elementary school near you. : )

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As CEO and Head Custodian of Miles & Company, Tim Miles helps owner-operated companies do more with less. He's the author of Good Company: Making It, Keeping It & Being It.

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