Are Your Goals Really Goals?

Appropriate goals are the driving force behind successful organizations. Successful organizations have taken the time to diligently develop realistic, attainable goals that provide legitimate focus for the organization. The goals are not just words on paper.

Goals should be a part of a formalized, written strategic plan. The strategic plan is your road map…the strategic planning process determines what you market, where you market it, how you market it, and, more simply, how you are going to allocate precious money and people

Goals should have the following characteristics:
-They are attainable.
-They require hard work to achieve.
-They are easily understood.
-They reflect critical aspects of the organization.
-They support the overall mission or purpose of the organization.
-They are consistent with the organization’s capabilities and resources.

Goals are the jumping off point, so to speak, for developing specific objectives, strategies and tactics. The combination of goals, objectives, strategies and tactics form the strategic plan.

Your people should be well aware of and focused on the organization’s goals. Without this focus, your people are never sure where the company is headed and, therefore, cannot fully embrace the importance of the various decisions being made.

Ask yourself and your employees these questions when you sense that impending decisions might be drifting away from the direction provided by your goals; What are our goals? Does this decision help us achieve one or more of those goals?
Make sure that your goals are not really strategies in disguise. This example illustrates the difference between goals, objectives and strategies for a company looking to grow through diversification:
-Goal: Achieve profitable diversification of the company.
-Objective: Have in place one new division by 12/31/99.
-Strategy: Diversify through acquisition as opposed to product development.

This example clearly shows one of the key areas of focus for the company; diversification. And it shows how they intend to achieve this goal; by acquiring another company. This goal and its supporting objective(s) and strategy(s) clearly communicates to interested parties that at least part of the company’s growth will come through diversification by acquisition.

Look at your company’s goals. Are they clear, concise and meaningful? Do they provide real focus? If you achieve each of your goals, will your company be successful or more successful than it is today? Do your people know what the goals are and are the goals ingrained into the culture? Have you limited the number of goals to somewhere between 3 and 7 since too many goals will confuse and muddy the focus and too few might not provide enough focus.

If your company doesn’t have a sound strategic plan in place, you are living dangerously. Without one your organization is like a rudderless ship. Today’s business climate is much too competitive to not have a well constructed strategic plan.

Successful, high performing companies, large and small, have a long-range plan and they live it and breath it. Their focus is on that plan and on their goals.