“How Are We Going to Make That Happen?”

I spend a great deal of time talking to businesses and nonprofit leaders about how they set their goals and develop strategies to achieve them. In the current environment, I’m constantly encouraging them to embrace change, to think about transformation (not evolution), and to drive cultural renewal in their teams. In effect, I’m pushing them into their discomfort zone – which usually leads to conversations like “That doesn’t seem realistic” or “How are we going to make that happen?”

My first instinct when faced with these complex problems is to radically simplify the approach. In Xbox Revisited, I explore something I call the 3P Framework, which focuses on establishing Purpose, Principles, and Priorities in a short concise strategy centering the team on the things that really matter. We used this approach to fix the Xbox business and I continue to use it in the “civic engineering” work I do with nonprofits today.

But there is a complementary approach to the reductionist work in the 3P Framework – one that can inspire a team to greatness and show them that it can be done. The basic idea is to write a news story from the future (I guess in today’s world it would be a blog post or a series of 50 tweets) about the great success of the project and how it achieved its goals. In Xbox lore, we called it “writing the Newstime” story (a tribute to both Newsweek and Time Magazine, if you remember them). Amazon uses a “frequently asked questions” approach in something they call “working backward.” Whatever you call it, the technique is designed to break people from the conventions of the “current” and think creatively about what could be possible.


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