Business GEM #1 Goals:
Everything Begins With Defining The Goal
EVERY ENTITY AND EVERY PERSON EXISTS FOR A PURPOSE, A GOAL
That entity’s or person’s existence can be evaluated in terms of how successful it, he or she was in achieving the purpose or goal for which it existed.
Man’s purpose is to know, love, serve, and glorify God—that’s our goal. God created us and as our “boss” He determines our goal. The Bible says that “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).
Its “owners” determine an entity’s purpose or goal. Those who are employed by the entity are there to contribute directly as possible to the achievement of the entity's goal, purpose or mission.
BEGINS WITH DEFINING THE GOAL.
You have heard the saying, “How will you know when you have arrived, if you don’t know where you want to go?” Proper and clear goals are the “where you want to go," your destination, your purpose, your mission. Your role is to define your goals and effectively manage and accomplish them. It all begins with clearly defining “where you want to go” — the goal.
Jesus was emphatic in where He was going and His goal: “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) and "We are going up to Jerusalem," he said, "and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise." Mark 10:33, 34)
Steven Covey, in his best seller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” describes Habit #2 as “Beginning with the end in mind.” The “end” is the goal — the goal.
In his business book, “The E Myth,” Michael Gerber says, “A mature business knows how it got to be where it is, and what it must do to get where it wants to go.” The “where it wants to go,” is the goal — the goal!
There are two principle characters in the best selling novel, “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt: “Alex,” a manufacturing plant manager, and “Jonah,” a management consultant. Alex has a variety of problems in his plant and seeks Jonah’s counsel. In their first meeting Alex describes what he thinks is his problem, to which Jonah replies, “No, that is not your problem.... Your problem is you don’t know what the goal is.” The entire story is a series of challenges by Jonah to Alex. Alex brings problems to Jonah, who in turn repeatedly asks Alex “what’s the goal?” Then Alex goes off and thinks…and thinks…and asks others…until he understands the goal.
The point is this — if you want to be successful at what you do,
begin by clearly and properly defining your goals.
CONFUSION BETWEEN GOALS AND ACTION STEPS
An important aspect to accomplishing goals is to understand the difference between “goals” and “action steps.” Frequently organizations and management teams get caught up in debating and choosing action steps, thinking that these action steps are goals, as opposed to defining “the goal” and then choosing the action steps to accomplish that goal.
For example, during 1993, the U. S. Senate’s and House of Representatives’ Ways & Means Committees debated President Clinton’s tax revision proposal. Republicans and Democrats argued for and against this or that cut or addition. Ultimately, new legislation was signed into law, the
Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1993, which the administration said could increase tax revenue by as much as $255 billion.
These Committees needed a consultant who could and would bring their focus to defining their goal and then choosing the action steps to accomplish it. Here’s why.
If you watched the debates on C-SPAN, or saw the reports about them on TV or in the newspaper, it was obvious they did not start with clearly and properly defining the goal for the proposed legislation. Rather, they argued the pro’s or con’s of revenue generating
action steps, an adversarial process, resulting in legislation that cannot be ultimately determined as successful or not.
Presumably, the goal was to reduce the deficit, which, at that time, was about $200 billion. But it was never agreed upon as to how much the deficit was to be reduced or by when — just that it was expected to reduce it. A costly law with far reaching implications was put in place with no way to measure its ultimate successfulness.
Now let’s examine what could have and should have been done. First, both sides should have debated until they reached and defined the goal of the legislation — for example, reduce the deficit to $170 billion in 1994, $120 billion in l995, etc. With the goal clearly and properly defined, the debate over the “how to” — the action steps — would have had a common purpose and therefore been significantly less adversarial in nature. More importantly, the success of the Act would be measurable by comparing
actual deficits to the
goals. Makes sense!
Or as Jonah said to Alex, “Yeah, but.... really, Jonah, that’s just simple common sense.… But it’s too simplified.” To which the consultant replies, “What I am telling you is,
the process is meaningless unless you know what your goal is.”
CHOOSE THE APPROPRIATE GOAL—THE REAL GOAL
During 1994, countless hours were spent throughout this nation debating President Clinton’s health reform legislative proposal. This time there was a goal. He said the goal was, “That every American be covered by universal health care insurance.” The year ended without any legislation being passed. Untold hours and dollars were wasted. Why? There was a goal, yes. It was clearly defined, yes. But it was not the APPROPRIATE goal. Ask yourself, what is the proper goal? What should the goal have been, consistent with what President Clinton wanted—and what all Americans want?
Put this paper down for a moment and think about it. What’s the goal?
Isn’t the appropriate goal “that every American receive appropriate health care consistent with what is needed?”
“That there be universal insurance coverage for all Americans is an
action step and it adversarially slams the door on a myriad possible action steps such as doctors donating time, charitable organizations helping the sick, free clinics sponsored by hospitals, donation of drugs by manufacturers, to name only a few.
With the goal properly defined as being, “That every American receive appropriate health care consistent with what is needed,” becomes a call-to-action for Americans from every sector to act responsibly as a team and accomplish a common good. Not just a major change in insurance coverage. The ultimate goal is to get sick people well, not to get them insurance. Makes sense!
every situation, problem or opportunity — personal or business — should be approached by first asking, “What’s the goal?” Then, clearly and properly define it. Consequently, it makes good sense to know how to write goals and why they are so important. Success or failure could well depend on that initial first step.
GOALS AND ACTION STEPS
- Expressed in terms of
- The end that one strives to attain
- The purpose you are doing what you are doing
- The ”why” you are doing what you do
- The thing you want to accomplish
- The focus of your actions
- Your destination.
Action Steps are:
- The “
how” one plans to reach a goal
How a person plans to manage an organization to accomplish its goal
- Your road map.
CRITERIA TO FULFILL IN WRITING PROPER GOALS.
BE CONSISTENT WITH THE PLAN AND THE ORGANIZATION’S MISSION STATEMENT.
SET GOALS ON THE VITAL FACTORS.
A “vital factor” is a result on which the success of the entity depends. It will vary from one to another; and, from one person to another for a particular activity. For this reason it is vital to do a vital factor analysis at least once a year. The following limited list is only to serve as an indicator of possible areas to consider:
- Growth numbers
- Growth rate
- Financial factors
- Cash flow
- Market Share
- Customer retention and satisfaction
- Relate to the Mission
- Feedback from and surveys of the target market.
Managers must identify the vital factors of the entity that relates to their own operations and set their goals accordingly.
Write the measurements in terms of
• Output • Cost • Quality • Time • Survey Results • Ability to meet or exceed expectations of customers and/or employees and/or members.
Measurement factors may be simply dollars, percentages, or actual units of output. A good attitude in goal setting is to assume that an area of performance can somehow be measured until proven otherwise. In first efforts at goal setting, the manager may be faced with the difficulty of not having past performance data on which to base goals.
NEED TO BE SPECIFIC, CLEARLY STATED AND NOT AMBIGUOUS.
Words like “more” or “better” or “significant” or “improve” or “substantial” are ambiguous and cannot be measured.
STATE GOALS AS RESULTS NOT AS ACTION STEPS.
Think in terms of the end you want to attain or aim not how you are going to get there. At the outset of goal setting, most managers will write down statements of problems, action steps or tasks
rather than goals. Here are some examples of action steps,
“Write a procedure needed to break the order processing bottleneck.”
“Straighten out the mess in inventory control.”
“Conduct performance reviews on a more regular basis.”
ACCOMPANIED BY DATE TO BE ACCOMPLISHED BY.
First view this goal in light of the priorities of other thing on your agenda. Consider the priorities of your “vital few.” Then choose when you can start working on your goal and add to that the time frame needed to accomplish it. That will give you the date to accomplish it by.
Appropriate goals for you are ones that you can control the outcome of and be held accountable to achieve.
CONTRIBUTES TO FINACIAL GOALS.
The purpose or mission of every “for-profit” or “non-profit” is to operate on a financially sound basis. Therefore, if carried to its ultimate purpose, all goals contribute to enhancing profitability or cash flow at some point in time.
GOALS CHALLENGING BUT REALISTIC.
In the early stages of Goals and Controls, the emphasis is on being “realistic.” Begin with modest gains and proceed gradually. Steady, progressive growth is preferred to the extremes of peaks and valleys.
What’s the goal?
Start everything you do—every meeting—every assignment—EVERYTHING—with one of these questions:
What’s the goal of what I am doing—or of this meeting—or of this assignment?
If our time together in this meeting is successful, what will we accomplish?
Why are we meeting? What’s the goal?
If our time together is successful, what will we leave this meeting with?
EVALUATE EVERYTHING YOU DO IN LIGHT OF THE GOAL (S)
Think, why am I about to do what I am about to do? What’s the goal?
Example: You are going to play golf. On the first tee (or earlier) decide what the goal is for playing golf. After all, if you achieve the goal, isn’t that being successful? So, what’s the goal? Have fun? Enjoy the day? Being out with friends? Winning money? Shooting under your handicap? I have seen so many high handicap golfers frustrated, angry, cursing, and just plain obnoxious because they had an unrealistic goal. If their goal would have been “let’s have some fun together and enjoy the day” that’s probably what would have happened.
When I am with my children (adults) my goal is to enjoy their company and friendship. If in conversation they tell me something they did that I would have advised against, and then I give them fatherly advice unsolicited, I will have defeated my goal for being with them. What’s more, they weren’t asking for advice, just telling what’s going on their lives. By keeping my focus on the goal, it is much easier to overcome my propensity to give advice and fix their lives. And, we have a much better time together.
ON THE GOAL
It all comes down to FOCUS. Focus on the goal --- not the process, not the action step, not what feels good
--- FOCUS ON THE GOAL. THAT’S THE GOAL!