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Bruce McAlpineGoal SettingLeadership

Developing 2020 Vision – PART 2 – Corporate

By November 12, 2019No Comments

As we approach the year 2020 it is very fitting to be discussing 2020 Vision.

In Part 1 of this 3 part series we began with Step 1 – Understand the Marketplace Uncertainties.  We distinguished between Risks and Uncertainties as we looked at the big macro environmental factors affecting our business over which we have no control (government regulation, demographics, global trade, economic cycles, etc.).  We concluded that the best we could do to address these uncertainties was to get a number of publicly available economic forecasts for 2020, build a consensus, and analyze what it means to our company.

In this article we will cover the remaining 5 Steps, which (like Step 1) should be done with the participation of your senior leadership.

Step 2 – Do a SWOT analysis on your company.

Now that we have a good idea of what hand the marketplace is going to deal us in 2020, we need to see how we stack up.  To do this, we need to look at such internal factors as Sales, Marketing, Finance, Operations, Human Resources, and Technology from the perspective of Strengths and Weaknesses.  And we need to look at the external factors explored in Step 1 from the perspective of Opportunities and Threats.  Our analysis will look something like this, with both positive and negative comments for each factor.

Internal Factor Strengths Weaknesses
Human Resources e.g. Solid leadership, with an average tenure of 20+ years in the company e.g. No succession plan in place, and difficulties in attracting quality entry-level employees
Sales & Marketing    


External Factor Threats Opportunities
The Economy    


Step 3 – Differentiation

This step gets very granular, as we analyse where we are differentiated from our competitors.  The key here is to ensure that we are identifying differentiators which are genuinely valued by our ideal clients/customers.  For example, in the Service Sector (in the words of Blair Enns, author of The Win without Pitching Manifesto), “Expertise is the only valid basis for differentiating ourselves from the competition.  Not personality.  Not process.  Not price.  It is expertise and expertise alone that will set us apart in a meaningful way and allow us to deal with our clients and prospects from a position of power.”  We need to be brutally honest in this step.  If we don’t have a meaningful differentiator, this will become our highest urgent priority.

Step 4 – Our 3 Year Vision

In this step we develop a concise but detailed dual vision of where we would like to be in 3 years, offering both an internal as well as an external perspective.  For instance, the internal vision will describe how our company looks in terms of the markets and geographies we serve, the products and services we offer, our channels of distribution, our finances, our human resources development programs, our technology, etc., and be motivational to our employees.  The external vision will describe how our customers view us in comparison to our competitors, and will likely describe their loyalty to us.

For instance, the external 3 Year Vision of our Executive Search Firm could be stated as “Our vision is to be our ideal clients’ preferred search partner for Mission-Critical positions across North America, covering the functions of Sales & Marketing; Manufacturing, Operations & Engineering; Supply Chain & Logistics and General Management/C-Suite Leadership.  Our clients will recognize and value our 3 differentiators of Breadth of Search, Depth of Assessment, and Process Control.”

Step 5 – Your 2020 Vision

In this step we determine what needs to be done (and can be afforded) in 2020 to make the 3 Year Vision achievable.  This could require investments in training, developing new products/services, opening satellite offices in key locations, etc.

Step 6 – Measurement

In this final step, we determine Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to ensure success.  We need to get very specific here, laying out our expectations for every function in the company, ideally with numeric targets for final results.  These will be Outcomes, measured by Lagging KPI’s.  For instance, a manufacturer of Consumer Packaged Goods might have a Sales KPI of net revenues of $50M, while maintaining 18% margins.  They are “Lagging” because we won’t know if they are achieved or not until the dust settles at the end of the year.  To avoid surprises, we will also need Leading KPI’s which are activities based, and which (if achieved) will be a good indicator along the way whether or not we are on track to achieving our year year-end targets.  For example, to achieve the $50M revenue target, we might have to launch product X by the end of Q1, and have trials running in 10 accounts by the end of Q3.

In Part 3 of this series, we will look at personal vision casting and goal setting (AKA “New Year’s Resolutions”), recognizing that there is more to life than business(!)

Bruce McAlpine is President of Fulcrum Search Science Inc., a Toronto-based executive search firm solving Mission-Critical hiring challenges throughout North America, and Past President of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services.  He can be reached at or 416.779.8505