How to Get What You Want: The One Page Executive Summary

How to Get What You Want: The One Page Executive Summary

Quoting the Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime you find you get what you need.” That’s what the Executive Summary will accomplish: trying to get what you need in a work environment where the prevailing mantra is “Do more with less.”

However, as the Team Leader or Team Member of a High-Performance Work Team, that is not only effective at getting the job done, but also efficient at getting the job done (using the least amount of time, energy and resources), there is the realization the Team, faced with the ever increasing annual demand for more, cannot continue to do that more with less! The Team will need additional resources – additional Team members and money for new Team members and additional funds to retain existing Team talent and maintain a high level of engagement to do more than the required work and commitment to the long term vision of the organization – to continue to function as a High-Performance Work Team. The issue: how to get them?

Participants in my coaching program ( are all Team Leaders and Managers (two different skills sets) and I coach them so they can develop a High-Performance Work Team (hire correctly, train Team Members extensively, develop Team Members when appropriate, engage in ongoing self-development, recognize Team and Team Member achievement, celebrate and reward success and eliminate non-productive or disruptive Team Members). But Team Leaders must also realize when their High-Performance Work Team needs additional resources to remain high-performance – to fight burn-out, stress, frustration –, distractions that reduce high-performance and cause Team Members to leave. With awareness of the need for additional resources comes the Team Leader’s obligation to try and get them.

Unfortunately, control of required resources – primarily money and people – is not normally within the control of the Team Leader. To get resources, the Team Leader has to formulate an effective “ask” that makes their request for more resources resonate with decision makers who are already pre-deposed to say “NO!” Why is there this negative predepostion by upper level management?

1.    The current business mantra “Do more with less” has been in effect since the Great Recession of 2008, which forced companies to significantly reduce their workforces (average reduction 30%). Ten years later, companies have become comfortable running as lean as possible. Since an increase in the number of Team Members has an immediate impact on a Team’s profitability, the default answer to any request that increases expenses is a firm “NO!”, sugar coated with “but let’s review the situation next quarter.”

2.    Upper level management is often not a trusting group. They may not believe the Team is performing as productively as it could be. Therefore, they view the request for more resources as not about continuing to produce high-performance results, but about the Team trying to make their jobs easier.

3.    Every Team wants more resources so it is easier to say no to all requests rather then having to determine which Team has real resource “needs” (necesasy to generate more profit) rather then just “wants” (nice to have but not crucial to generating more profit).

Enter the One Page Executive Summary, an effective and efficient method of overcoming the default to “NO!”

Here are the 5 elements of the One Page Executive Summary:

1.   The “ask” – the specific resource requested.

2.   How the “ask” is going to be utilized.

3.   When the “ask” is needed.

4.   What the short term return on the “ask” – the R.O.I. – will be and when the return will be realized.

5.   What opportunities for future growth will be lost if the “ask” is not granted.

To have maximum impact and maintain intense focus of the reader, each element of the Executive Summary is supported by no more then three sentences/bullet points. If the elements strong support a legitimate need that clearly will increase profitability, more information is not needed. And if it is needed, additional specific information will be requested.

The Coach’s Corner: The One Page Executive Summary is effective at getting additional resources because:

1.   It’s in writing. Most “asks” are made verbally and, therefore, are easier to forget or ignore.

2.   It’s short and to the point.  This simplifies the decision making process, making is easier to say “yes.” Complexity introduces uncertainty, which leads to doubt, which leads easily to “no.”

3.    It factually supports a legitimate “need”. It makes a strong succient factual case for needed resources without the fluff, griping and whining that usually accompanies resource requests.

4.   It addresses two areas most Team Leaders are hesitant to discuss, but are the most important factors for granting resources:

·      the immediate ROI the resources will produce and

·      the lost opportunities for future growth if those resources are not granted.

·      BTW: if a Team Leader cannot compute both of these financial benchmarks, don’t submit the “ask”.  And, yes, forecasting is a mix of art and science.  The better the Team Leader is at this skill set the more resources he/she will get.

I could be wrong… but I’m not. 

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