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7-Step strategy framework for growth in 2022

Former "Top 40 Under 40" CEO Shannon Byrne Susko’s leadership strategy framework

Shannon Byrne presentation banner

The saying ‘Cash is King’ smacked a lot of businesses in the face during Covid. As leadership coach, former CEO, and Corporate Director Shannon Byrne Susko says “I like cash because you can put it in a wheelbarrow and walk away with it’.

However, ‘widgets’ are also key to your strategic plan, she told Growth Faculty’s masterclass. 

“Cash and widgets balance each other out,” she says. “Most team members don’t relate to dollars but they do relate to things that flow through their area.”

Mapping out your cash and widgets is at the heart of the Metronomics strategic planning framework. 


So, using her “best kept secret” own strategy system 3HAG Way, Shannon coached this week’s Masterclass Go For Growth: A Strategic Planning Framework.

Here’s a snapshot of her strategy framework, set out in detail in her books The Metronome Effect and 3HagWay, and number one bestseller Metronomics.

7 steps to take right now:

STEP 1 – MAP YOUR CASH (from the bottom up)

·       What’s the cash available? Here’s a formula: Total available cash divided by total daily cost of operation = # of days of cash available.

·       Map Your Key Function Flow Map (KFFM). Be clear on the functions needed and who owns what function. Is there a function no-one owns?


·       Write down your core purpose, your core values, and your 10-30 year goal (your BHAG/Big Hairy Audacious Goal, the much-quoted Jim Collins concept). This BHAG can be “gutted out” with no numbers.

·       Most companies have a core purpose, but most don’t have a 30-year goal. 


·       What is the year-end date of year 3?

·       What will the fiscal measure be? (eg. gross revenue $20 mill and CASH $2 million)

·       What are the widgets to get the company to this number? (How many of what will get us to those numbers?)

·       What will the company be in 3 years? “Gut out” a 3HAG statement with no numbers (eg.“To be the leading north American payment service provider’)

·       What are the 3-5 capabilities we need in place to deliver on 1-4? (eg. We’d need 24x7 support)

·       What do we want to be known for in 3 years? (eg. “Making payments easy”) 


Before we go to Step 4, pause here and write down the facts of your company. They must be facts, not opinions. Get them all down. No cash might be in there. Rising cost of supplies. Out-of-date contracts. Rent costs.

Okay, let's move on......


·       Come up with your 1-year highly achievable goal. How many widgets/bookings do you need to make the number? 


·       What’s the exact number of widgets you need to deliver to make the number? What are the corporate priorities and who owns each priority? Weekly sprint - 'This Friday where are we going to be? Next Friday? And the next?'


·       Aim for 90% A-players to create an A-team. An A-player must have the core values and must exceed expectations. A Rockerfeller Habit question is 'Would you enthusiastically re-hire them?'


·       Confirm the Top 3 needs of your core customer. In the pandemic the core customer may be the same but their needs may have shifted.

To recap:

Swap out the Wild-Ass-Guess for a 3HAG

Instead of a 5 Year Wild-Ass-Guess, the team collaborates to decide a 3-year Highly Achievable Goal (3HAG). This is where your near-term work meets your long-term goal (Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG).

“3HAG is a collaborative agreement of where we are going to be in 3 years,” says Shannon. “Once you write it down, say it out loud, write it down, tell others. ‘Here is where we’re going to be 3 years from now’ you don’t want to be wrong.” 

How many widgets do you need to make to get there?

“You forecast CASH first, then WIDGETS, because it’s the widgets that are going to make money for us,” says Shannon. “We don’t wait till end of month and say ‘oh we lost’ – widgets allow us to maintain a simple scoreboard, connect us to the team, and show us how we make money.”

In Shannon’s first company Paradata one of their widgets was the ‘Number of new businesses who joined our platform’ and the other was ‘How many we retained on our platform’.

“When we broke it down to how many new businesses we had to have…our team was shocked!” she remembers. “We were looking at each other wide-eyed like deer in the headlights.”

With fresh clarity, they forecast 36 months of widgets. It was a progression. The team first forecast for 90 days, then 12 months, and got better and better at it.

CEO is the metoronome in your business

In Shannon's Metronomics:

Metronome = the CEO. Humble, fiercely committed, and sets the regimen speed, The CEO progresses with the team to grow together.

Economics = life. The relationship of time and investment (company values and life balance).

Metrics = widgets.

Shannon says that growth requires a repeatable, successful CEO. Someone who knows not just what needs to be done, but how to do it. It's not going to happen with a "desperate CEO" with all the tools and the theory but no system.

To grow, Shannon says you need:

  • A highly cohesive, culturally strong team
  • A clear and simple strategy, goals and metrics
  • A great leader
  • A coach for the CEO and the leadership team.

Importance of a coach

Shannon says every winning team has a playbook, a playing field and scoreboard, and a coach.

"I’ve always been coached in business and athletics because a coach saves time," she says. "The minute I became a CEO I looked for a coach who could coach me and the leadership team. The team has to be committed to evolving their behaviour." 

And, what a success she's been.

A former fintech entrepreneur, Shannon herself was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 and was awarded the Sarah Kirke Award for Canada’s Leading Women Entrepreneurs in 2006. Shannon founded her CEO coaching and worldwide speaking business in June 2011.

To learn more from Shannon, read our interview with Shannon Byrne Susko and for further resources click here.

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