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How your Fractional CMO Is Keeping Long-Term Vision Resulting Into Performance Improvement


Fractional CMO long term vision on performance improvement

As a leader, it is your responsibility to create a unified vision of the future for your company or unit. However, it is equally essential to execute this vision over the years that it may take. Many leaders struggle with this, resulting in only a few companies reporting sustainable performance improvement.


Studies show that only 16% of companies committed to a multi-year process of digital transformation reported sustained performance improvement.


At the core of this challenge is the inability to translate the vision into a structured plan that stays in focus over time. Leaders may have goals, measurable KPIs, dashboards, and accountability measures for the short-term. However, when it comes to tracking progress over the years, they often lose sight of the vision in the face of rapidly changing business and economic conditions that force constant adaptation to produce day-to-day results.


To illustrate, let's take the example of a large technology firm that planned to shift from hardware to software and services over five years. Although the vision was in place, the senior team spent most of their time in the first two years getting results from hardware products to ensure that the current business did not suffer. Meanwhile, the transformation of the core remained unfulfilled, despite being mentioned in strategic updates and stakeholder reviews.


On the other hand, Adobe Systems embarked on a major transition from a license sales model to a cloud-based subscription model in 2013. The company's revenue shrank 8% in the first year and remained flat in the second. However, the senior team stayed true to their longer-term strategic intent, bolstered by the resolve of CEO Shantanu Narayen. Today, Adobe's recurring revenues amount to $14 billion, with 80% of those revenues coming from subscriptions and associated sources.


So, what did Narayen and the Adobe team do that others didn't? How did they execute on their vision over time while coping with unanticipated distractions and the pressure to produce short-term results?


7 Insights for CEOs from your fractional CMO


Here are seven insights that successful leaders use to deal with these challenges and realize a multi-year vision:


1. Plan Based on the Vision


Drive a structured yearly planning process that connects the long-term vision to short-term action. This approach involves breaking down the vision into smaller, achievable goals that can be tracked over time. It is essential to align these goals with the long-term vision to ensure that they are moving the company in the right direction. This approach also involves creating a roadmap that outlines the steps necessary to achieve each goal. Finally, it is crucial to establish metrics and KPIs to track progress and hold people accountable.


2. Focus Your Experimentation


Encourage projects that iterate towards the vision. This approach involves experimenting with new ideas and initiatives that move the company closer to the long-term vision. It is essential to create a culture that supports experimentation and risk-taking. This approach involves establishing a process for evaluating and prioritizing new ideas. It also requires a willingness to pivot or abandon initiatives that are not moving the company in the right direction.


3. Train Your People


Develop training and education that makes the vision come alive over time. This approach involves investing in your people to ensure they have the skills and knowledge necessary to execute on the long-term vision. This approach involves creating a training and development program that aligns with the company's strategic goals. It also involves providing ongoing coaching and feedback to ensure that people are staying on track.


4. Focus on behaviors, not attitudes


Changing organizational culture is not as easy as getting people to adjust their attitudes. Instead, start by focusing on behaviors, and the attitudes will follow. Make real, tangible changes to behaviors by creating goals that are applicable, simple, advantageous, testable, and observable. By implementing these changes, you can maintain a long-term vision that supports growth and sustained improvement.


5. Set achievable goals


Setting unachievable goals can result in frustration and lack of motivation. Instead, set achievable goals that align with the company’s vision and values. Communicate these goals with clarity and transparency to gain buy-in from your team. Regularly reviewing these goals will also ensure they remain relevant and achievable over time.


6. Develop a robust performance management system


To maintain long-term performance and improvement, it’s essential to have a robust performance management system in place. This system should include performance metrics, monitoring, and accountability measures. Use quality data to communicate with your team about progress, achievements, and areas of improvement. By doing so, you can ensure you are maintaining focus on your long-term vision.


7. Embrace innovation and technology


Today’s business environment demands innovation and technology to remain competitive. Incorporating innovation and technology into your long-term strategy can support ongoing growth and success. Invest in training and development for your team to keep up with the latest technological advancements. This approach will help to develop a culture of innovation that supports the company's vision.


In conclusion, maintaining a long-term vision is vital for success in today’s business environment. By focusing on behaviors, setting achievable goals, developing a robust performance management system, and embracing innovation and technology, leaders can maintain a sustained improvement in performance over time. Implementing these strategies requires strategic thinking, transparency, and a commitment to building a strong, cohesive culture.


As a leader, it’s time to take action and move your company forward with a long-term vision that sets the stage for success. Ask your fractional CMO for support and strategic alignment.


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