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I’ve got a bedtime story for you. It’s called “How Successful Companies Get There.”

I know, it’s a horrendous title for a bedtime story. I promise we will workshop a new one. In the meantime, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

As for the story, I’d like to say it’s a parable. It’s not a parable, it started off as one but then quickly evolved into not one. But it’s fun to say “parable” so let’s stick with that.

Whatever it’s called, if you want to build a successful company, I suggest you sit down, grab a cuppa cocoa or whatever cuppa comforting concoction you choose, and let’s begin.

Our story starts Here.


Once upon a time, there was a place called Here. Actually, the place still exists. You’re working at it.

Any company at any stage of growth must always acknowledge its reality. That reality is Here.

To be truly Here means to understand what’s What. What are the critical components of acknowledging that you are Here.

What are the current market conditions
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competition
What are the problems in the market
What is the status of your solution to those problems

Once you know what’s What, you will have a better understanding of what it means to be Here.

How do you get Here?

Everybody in the entire company is responsible for being Here. Everybody is also responsible for recognizing and acknowledging all the What that makes you Here. Because if you don’t know what’s What, you can’t truly be Here, and then you won’t have clarity on what’s There.

successful company


Here is all nice and fine, but there’s not a lot of motivation and inspiration Here. Here, on its own, is just a J.O.B.

The ultimate goal of a company is not to stay Here. The goal is to get There.

In fact, the entire purpose of any successful company is to get from Here to There. But in order to get There, you need to first have a vision of what it looks like to be There. You need to paint a realistic picture of what happens There and what it means for everybody to be There.

Some people call this a Vision. I prefer it’s real name: There

Whereas the daily grind happens Here, there is inspiration and motivation in knowing that the company is trying to get There. Simply by knowing There is there, a fire of purpose is lit, making people eager to work harder in order to get from Here to There.

How do you know what’s There?

The vision of There is created by the CEO and shared with the rest of the company.

Once that’s done, then you need the Map.

successful company

The Map

The only way to effectively travel from Here to There is to know the route. After all, if you don’t know the route you may end up traveling in a completely different direction and you risk getting stuck going in circles around Here.

The problem is that there are many routes to get from Here to There. There are many ways to travel the distance.

The goal is to pick the best route you can think of and create a Map. It’s sometimes called a Strategy or a Strategic Map. I personally like just calling it a “Map” since that’s what it is and we don’t need any fancy shmancy words to pretend it’s something else.

The Map outlines the paths to take that will most reliably get your company from Here to There.

The Map is very important. Without it, There would not be a realistic destination. It would just be a dream of something somewhere that you’ll never obtain.

Keep in mind that as things change Here, your Map may have to be changed in order to get There.

For instance, sometimes after traveling down one path, you may realize it’s a dead end or perhaps it’s not actually taking you any closer to being There. Maybe it’s even taking you Someplace Else, but that’s a completely different story.

It is critically important to periodically reevaluate the Map to make sure it’s still getting you There. For goodness sakes, you don’t want to be stuck Here forever.

How do you draw the Map?

It is most often senior leadership that creates their Map outlining the best route to get each department from Here to There.

Once the Map is in place, then you begin to take the Steps.

successful company

The Steps

Let’s recap.

  1. You are Here.
  2. You want to get There, because the CEO said so.
  3. You’ve got a Map with the route to get from Here to There that was created by senior leadership

The only thing left to do is lace up your shoes and begin taking the Steps that follow the Map to get There.

The Steps are taken by employees of the company. They are the daily activities that follow the Map that bring the company closer to There.

Employees are like super-Sherpas in this journey – they are the ones doing a lot of the work to get There.

Employees should all know – and be able to define – all the Steps they need to take to travel through their part of the Map. Keep in mind, all employees don’t always know everybody else’s Steps. But that doesn’t matter. The makers of the Map are the ones overseeing the Steps. They are the ones that make sure the Steps are taking the company in the right direction.

Every single person’s Steps are critically important to get from Here to There.

If employees take Steps that don’t follow the Map, they simply won’t get There. And that’s bad.

The Steps also need to be coordinated. If one person takes their Steps slower than others, the entire journey will be out of Step and will impact the ability to get from Here to There.

Which leads me to The Problems.

successful company

The Problems

In my time working with different types of companies I’ve seen five different problems that occur within this story.

  1. They confuse Here for There
  2. They don’t know what’s What
  3. There is no There there
  4. There is no Map There
  5. They can’t take the Steps There

Each of these problems will lead to an inability to get There. Each of these problems are also surprisingly common.

But wait, look at the time. It’s getting late and you need to get your sleep. Besides, the Problems is an entirely different book in the series of how to get There.

Let’s finish story time another time, shall we?

Nighty night.

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    A Somewhat Relevant Quote

    From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.

    Dr. Seuss, Author, cartoonist, phony doctor, reluctant philosopher

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