When goals are REALLY goals

By | December 22, 2014

In working with many companies on their strategy and their business plans, the subject of goal setting always comes up.  Whether goals should be “stretch” or “makeable” is another subject for another time.  What I have noticed is that something even more fundamental is usually missing.  It’s what I call “the two N’s”.

Goals (sometimes called objectives) are often expressed in broad and even vague language.  Improve our position in this or gain a better understanding of that.  Do less of one thing or more of something else.  While setting goals can be helpful, setting clear, measurable goals is even better.  Which brings us to “the two N’s”:  Names and numbers.

By being as specific as we can in setting goals, using numbers allows us the benefit of accurately determining whether and to what extent we actually reached our goal.  Instead of simply “growing sales”, we want to “increase sales by 12% with half of that growth coming from new customers”.  Using numbers, whether they are expressed in percentages, actual counts, or dates is essential in order for us to get a truly accurate read on the accomplishment of our goals.

The second “N” stands for names.  Or more to the point, name!   Next to each goal, the name of the person responsible for its accomplishment is absolutely required.  Not a department, division, committee, work group or team.  A singular person must be responsible for bringing the necessary resources together to achieve the goal.  This does not mean, of course, that one person has to do all of the work required to complete the goal.  But someone has to “own” the responsibility of the goal.  When more than one person is “responsible” there is just too much opportunity for the focus to be dissipated.  Assumptions are made about who is doing what and not much happens.  Or as my old football coach used to say “anybody could have made the play…everybody thought somebody was going to make the play…so nobody made the play!’

Breathe new life into your goals by making sure that numbers and names are always included.

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