#TheBigBillionDays & other Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals
Big Billion Days Sales kick started yesterday at midnight. Flipkart expects to generate Rs. 3,000 crore in just 5 days, that is 58% higher than a normal week.
This festive season provides a great opportunity for organizations in the ecommerce space to create a short term goal that not only gives them a financial push this financial year but also provides an opportunity to align, bond and build the culture of the organization around achieving together and feeling pride of great achievements.
Flipkart is not alone aiming to leverage the festive season or Diwali as a big time promotional period. Snapdeal reported an increase of their sales by 10 times during their sales campaign on Monday. Pepperfry is looking at a 100% jump in the festive season.
A true BHAG (big, hairy audacious goal) is “clear and compelling and serves as a unifying, focal point of effort – often creating immense team spirit.” That is how James Collins defines it in his book ‘Built to Last’. Real success happens when the goal is so big that no a single individual alone can can accomplish it and it required collaboration and teamwork to make it happen. A BHAG creates the shared sense of a desirable output in the future that motivates, aligns, and enables collaboration.
Considering downsides of failure, should we or should we not set big, hairy, audacious goals where success is far from certain? Flipkart Big Billion Days Sale got off to a rocky start, as the e-commerce giant's website and app struggled to cope up with the heavy traffic once again this year. This scenario reminded of last year's Big Billion Sale, where founders had to apologies to consumers.
Organizations should set big goals. In today’s business environment there is no choice but to do so to remain competitive and milestones that team can create, like a big Diwali campaign can be a boost not only for business but also for culture building. After all, if one sets a big goal and fails, one learns something. If you succeed, then you gain and also learn something. Only when you don’t try is when you gain nothing and learn nothing. Here are some reflections on how to set big goals and increase your odds for success:
Set a SMART BHAG: Goals should be SMART
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound. Goals should be perceived as realistic and organizations should have the capabilities to achieve them, while being stretched. The external environment is right for a BHAG like the one that ecommerce have set, during Diwali period, Indian spent is significantly higher. Media reports that ecommerce companies expect 40% of annual sales to come from the months of October and November. The other side of the equation is the internal capabilities of the organization to capture that opportunity. Both Snapdeal and Flipkart are reported to have increased their capacity in the last few weeks and streamline its delivery process and increased their training to meet the demand of the coming weeks. While setting a smart BHAG is just the beginning, planning on how will you delivery it and creating a blueprint is paramount too.
Make it real for each individual
The BHAG is set at the organizational level but needs to be broken down to what it means to each individual. What does he/she needs to do to complete the task and help the team cross the finish line. Create mini goals for everybody in the team is how you can cascade a BHAG and make it real for every individual. Milestones, benchmarks coupled with training and support is the winning formula to empower individuals to contribute to the BHAG. From technical engineers to delivery boys, everybody should understand what a large scale campaign means at their level and what their part is in the overall game.
Provide appreciation & rewards
It is critical for individuals to feel appreciated and rewarded to go the extra mile. Last year during the Diwali sales, media reported that employees had to reach office by 5 am on many days and technology teams worked longer than 12 hours every day. Offices even arranged for mattresses for employees to sleep. Sounds crazy but these efforts well appreciated and rewarded can actually create energy, commitment and a great deal of camaraderie. This year, delivery staff will double their take home with incentives for additional deliveries. Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon and the like have adopted a more conciliatory position after a section of the delivery staff in Mumbai went on strike earlier this year. Clearly organizations should look for win-win to make BHAG a reality.
Wish for the best and plan for the worse
All optimal strategies will include the possibility for failure. When you strain the organizational muscle to push beyond current capabilities one needs to plan for the possibilities of something not going right. It is part of the game. Technical glitches will happen, how prepared are we to solve them? Bad press in social media driven by problems faced on the website and the app, these are already happening but what matters is how responsible and helpful is your customer support team to handle them? Is your leadership visible and accountable for anything that goes wrong? Last year co-founders Sachin and Binny Bansal of Flipkart issued a public apology as part of the damage control, in my mind could have come earlier and should have been more personal. Prepare for contingencies and be ready to fail. It is part of the learning and growth journey.
This is indeed fascinating times and there is learning everywhere. Wishing all the ecommerce companies a great success in their Diwali campaigns and more power & discounts to consumers.