One year during my life in the Fortune 500 world, in the interest of creating strategic impact, our company president declared the annual theme would be "Everybody Sells."

His annual theme idea was great on the surface since our tens of thousands of employees throughout the country had many personal relationships with business people in our target audience. Our salesforce represented a relatively small portion of the employee base, meaning there would be great upside if employees used their outside work relationships to talk up the company with appropriate people and share information about using our services.

Great annual theme, great potential for creating strategic impact, but crappy execution. With little time to put anything in place beyond SAYING "Everybody Sells," nobody did sell except the salesforce.

This experience tainted me to the idea of annual themes. Rather than creating strategic impact, they seem to be used as superficial stopgaps to highlight issues too big to actually address, let alone solve.


Creating Strategic Impact with an Annual Theme

I rethought my strategic perspective, however, based on a spiritual experience, interestingly enough.

The Catholic Church declared a "Year of Faith" lasting from late November 2012 until its conclusion in November 2013. During that special year, it was hard to go a week - and certainly, a month - without local churches offering multiple programs, services, or spiritual development opportunities related to the annual theme.

Looking back, I can point to several very specific changes in my own faith life originating from activities linked to the Year of Faith theme.

So maybe there is value to an annual theme.

4 Factors Behind a Successful Annual Theme

Here are learnings for creating strategic impact several if your organization is going to feature an annual theme

  • Strategically tie EVERYTHING you can throughout the year to the annual theme.
  • Don't decide the theme in January and expect it to work. Start immediately (although you may need multiple months) to plan activities to make sure the theme drives results.
  • Don't allow a time gap during the year when the theme and supporting activities lapse and aren't readily available.
  • Don't create a theme every year. Introducing a theme every few years makes it stand out as something different strategically.

What do you think? Would an annual theme pave the way for creating strategic impact in your organization? – Mike Brown


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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.