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Posted: March 29, 2012

Six steps to develop your business theme

It can help professionally and personally

Theresa M. Szczurek

Does your business have a theme to focus its top priority strategic efforts? Do you have a personal theme for 2012? 

For decades, I have personally had an annual theme. Over the years it has varied including: Out of Darkness, Into Light (after finishing the Ph.D. program); Year of the Book; Back to the Core (after the book tour realigning on my consulting practice); Focus, Finish, Fly; Believe and Act, and many more.  My theme has encapsulated my priorities and kept me going in the right direction.  For 2012, my theme comes from Pam Watson Korbel’s book by the same name, More Money, Less Work, More Fun!

Why have a Theme?  As Keith Cupp, President of Gazelles Coaching, says, “Your theme helps your organization’s Quarterly Priorities or “Main Thing” come alive in the organization, resulting in Focus, Energy and Alignment across departments and team members.” Here are some suggestions from Keith Cupp ( ) a top-notch Gazelles Business Coach.

Six Practical Pointers to Developing Your Theme:

1.  Do your strategic plan first.  Determine what are your big rocks or main priorities for the quarter or year.  How will you measure the successful outcome?  Is there one priority?

2.  Brainstorm on possible themes based on the top priority.  Be creative, out of the box, distinctive and unusual.

3.  Evaluate the candidate themes, ensuring they are relevant to your culture, workforce demographic and touch on a point of reference in your team member’s minds (e.g. a current trend, or movie, etc.).

4.  For the winning theme, brainstorm with your team and determine the theme name, reward and three to five ways to communicate your theme (e.g. skits, emails, posters).

5.  Choose a leader who will be accountable to develop a Theme Roll Out Plan to the entire company.

6.  Roll out the theme at a company-wide meeting, with an introduction by the Chief Executive (and perhaps a “leading role” by the CEO in a skit).

Four Hands Case Study.

Rich Russakoff ( ), shared the theme of one of his clients.  Four Hands ( ) is a a global manufacturer, wholesaler, and importer of innovative home furnishings. The 2005 Goal was to do $26 million. At the end of the first quarter, they were seeing that results were a little short of budget.  They realized that they were not maximizing opportunities to really align and focus people.

Theme. They used the 7.7.7 theme to emphasize their goals:

1) $7 million in revenue in Q2 (to catch up and get  back on budget)
2) $700,000 bottom line (to control expenses and insure profit sharing)
3) $7 million in open orders (to insure 3rd quarter results)

The challenge for each employee was to help manage costs and increase profitability.

Results.  7.7.7 was a very successful theme in that the firm:
• hit the first goal of $7.5 million in revenues
• hit $900,000 bottom line
• got to $8 million in open orders

Reward. The company celebrated success with a party and put 20 percent more into profit sharing.  Most importantly, this theme put them on track for the second half of the year, where they ended at $29 million.

Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Radish Systems, is a serial technology entrepreneur. The story of her last start-up, which sold for more than $40 million in less than six years, is included, along with her strategies for success, in the Amazon-bestseller Pursuit of Passionate Purpose: Success Strategies for a Rewarding Personal and Business Life., and @TheresaSzczurek on twitter.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Love this idea! We set up monthly themes for our projects, social media, marketing, etc but I love creating a theme for the year! Thanks for the great article. By Teri Karjala on 2012 03 31
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