Today, I am thinking about what the future looks like for the new company that I have been entrusted with and it reminded me of an Impossible Future that a team I worked on some years ago set for ourselves and achieved.
An Impossible Future is an envisioned future which a team can rally around and work towards. It may seem impossible at the time, but do all of the right things and it can be achieved. The most famous, of course, is a man on the moon (JFK and NASA) or changing the world with a personal computer (Jobs and Apple.) This is a transformational statement that forces the company or organization to act differently.
When I was at Greco Ethridge Group in the late 90's, we were a successful, relatively unknown ad agency that had caught the early wave of digital marketing and integrated it seamlessly into our offering. We had some great brands at the time - IBM, 3Com, CMP Media and more. We were growing slowly and really wanted to be recognized on the national stage. One day in a strategy meeting, I threw out the idea, let's set a goal to be named Agency Of The Year inside of 3-years. At the time it was so far from our reach. Nobody knew who we were, we did great work but were a great secret. Our Impossible Future had become AOTY. I even kept a small piece of paper in my wallet that said AGENCY OF THE YEAR. Every time I opened it, it reminded me of our mission.
This forced the entire firm to behave differently and became our litmus test for everything we did. Was our work world-class and breakthrough? Were we growing at over 20% per year? Did we have name brand new business wins? Were we profitable? Were we hiring great people? It gave us a platform for every major area of our business.
Guess what? We achieved it well inside of 3-years. Because were primarily a B2B agency focused on high-tech, we won AOTY from Ad Age's BtoB Magazine. That award and write-up still hangs in my home office because it reminds me that the impossible can be achieved. Believe it and it can be done.
What is your impossible future?