The questions you use frame the results you get

Once, I had a lead director of a publicly traded restaurant company ask me what would have to happen for sales to double.

For a company already doing over $2B in annual sales in a mature category. That was already the leader in its segment.

It took me aback.

Not least because typical conversations were about ~10% annual sales growth.

So why talk about these big moonshot goals?

I realized something important. The question you ask dictates the results.

A 10% growth per year would have yielded actions like:
-Optimizing the marketing line
-Driving new limited-time menu offers
-Using the CRM and loyalty to drive more frequency from current guests

But we developed more needle-moving initiatives because he asked me how to DOUBLE sales.

Some of the things we came up with included:
– Extending the reach of the concept by putting it into new distribution channels
– Reaching light and non-buyers through whole new categories
– Driving excess share of voice to improve market share by increasing marketing spend

The more “narrow” question yielded “narrow” results–because you’re naturally within guard rails.

Opening up the question forced us to think BIG and consider different types of ideas.

Over time, the ideas were used to great effect.

The hard part, of course, is that most organizations are looking for certainty around future revenues.

And the bigger the swing, well, the bigger the risk.

Regardless of where the conversation ends, trying an ambitious goal and removing restrictions is essential.

Even as just an exercise.

I can still see that director and me sitting in the corner having that conversation. I remain thankful for his nudge (and grace).