Do It Right, Or Don’t Do It At All!
Creating a business that can move and get things done should be the prime goal of any leadership team. But, more so, it’s important that it’s the right things that are getting done.
Active Knowledge Question:
Do you know how to set the right goals so you can always deliver the outcomes you seek?
Momentum is the one competitive trait that all businesses must focus on achieving. Momentum, however, must be strategic. It must be purposeful, aligned and compounding.
Purposeful in that it is executing the purpose for which your business exists, aligned with the growth strategy that you are pursuing, and always building on what has gone before.
Momentum is not running in 10 different directions at once or charging down one path only to abandon it and start down another. That is simply wasteful, but unfortunately, it is what many businesses see as action and growth.
Establishing a clear strategic growth path to follow is the way in which to align and compound your efforts — but this cannot be rigid, it must be agile. I liken it to orienteering. You know what your final destination is (that is, your purpose and vision) and you have mapped out how to get there, but you are also ready to stop and change course to reach that final destination as necessary. And, in business, it will be necessary.
There are lessons that have been learnt by many businesses that have sought to initiate momentum in their business and have failed badly. Money was never an issue and it was typically in response to market disruptions that caught them by surprise. Their attempts to ramp up quickly and respond to the threats clearly showed the aspects of the process that needed to be established.
These lessons are relevant to any movement (project) a business may seek to undertake:
- A clear direction must be set and communicated at the onset with no self-imposed impediments.
- It is critical to build energy prior to launching into the movement.
- Create stepping stones that will provide a clear pathway and staged approach to the final goal.
- Enable and recognise small wins throughout the project’s life so that progress can be seen and reinforced.
- Allocate the required budget, plus reserves, in advance to ensure they are secured and delays are not encountered en route to the final goal.
- Establish processes and policies that ensure rapid approval of any requisite items throughout the project’s lifespan.
- Enshrine a no-fault policy so that the project team is encouraged to be open and honest if conditions for achieving the goal change.
- Create a process that provides an easy parachute so that the project may be readily abandoned should such prove necessary.
In ensuring that when you do start running you don’t set yourself up to fall, each of the lessons above must be addressed in your processes.
After these processes are established there remains a fundamental question of: what are you seeking to achieve? Ultimately, what is your goal? And this is where many a leadership team still get it wrong.
Often a team is set up to deliver a specific outcome but it is the wrong outcome and no matter how well they deliver on the project, the poor setting of the outcome sought will ultimately bring them ‘unstuck’.
Setting The Right Goals
There are right and wrong goals, and the distinction lies in the type of goal you set and strive to achieve. You can have the greatest team in the world but if they are pursuing the wrong goal, all the efforts and talents are wasted.
The right goals are focused on actions that you alone control, and not outcomes that may be influenced by many factors outside your control.
For example, you may decide to enter a marathon and set the goal of finishing in the top 20 competitors. Well, you have little to no control over what it will take to achieve that goal because:
- You do not know how your competitors will perform on that day or probably even who they will be.
- You will not know what the weather conditions will be and how that may influence performance.
- You will not know what pace will be required to deliver that winning performance.
You should not run that race with an eye on being in the top 20, but you should run that race to perform at your best. And you should set your goals to ensure that you deliver your peak performance on that day. Winning is delivering your peak performance.
Relating this to a business context, let’s look at a simple example. I am a salesperson who has been given an aggressive sales target to achieve. Sitting there and looking at the sales target won’t achieve anything. But I do know that to achieve that target will require me to get ‘x’ number of people through my door, whether that be in real life or online. And to do that will require me to do ‘y’ to generate that activity. And once they are in, the ‘customer journey’ (aka the sales process) I take them through will need to be tailored and acted upon to deliver the final sales number.
To be successful, I need to focus absolutely on all the things I can control and trust in the process to deliver the final desired outcome.
As I set up a team to deliver on a goal and begin to build momentum, what I need to be focused on is setting goals that will enable the result to be achieved. I will not win a gold medal by constantly checking the score or looking over my shoulder to see how far ahead I am. I will not achieve the desired business goal by looking at that target but only by focusing on the process to enable and deliver it.
Only set goals for the elements that you can control and keep your focus on yourself, your team and your process. There are two aspects to this point:
- Firstly, don’t determine your success based on someone else’s goals.
- Secondly, set goals that are process-based. A process-based goal is one that will lead you to have the skills and attributes to achieve the outcomes you are seeking.
In the marathon example, your goals may be around the number of days you train, the distances you run, the pace you run at, the physical training and the mental preparation.
It’s worthwhile remembering that winning performances at peak levels — for example, the Olympics — are 90 per cent mental attitude and 10 per cent talent. The athlete with the greater mental toughness will likely deliver the winning performance on the day. The business team with the greater passion and commitment will likely win at the end of the day.
Ultimately your success will rest in how well you can manage what is placed in front of you each and every day and not by worrying about the final outcome.
You train yourself to be able to better manage what is placed in front of you, to see the best path, to overcome the challenges and to find your way through. You feel good when you have delivered a winning performance every day and it is this endurance that will deliver success.
Your eye is to who you are becoming as a person and you are always asking yourself: who do I need to become? And what do I need to accomplish and change for this to happen?
This is the attitude that you must build into your teams as you strive to achieve a winning momentum across your business.
If you are successful in creating momentum as part of your business’s DNA and have stepped through the growth stages of undefeatable strategies, real growth and decisive competitiveness, then there is a fourth stage, which is your ultimate goal — tactically alive.
There exists a fourth stage in the growth and development of your business, which few will reach and which even fewer will be able to sustain. It’s what some sports people may express as ‘being in the zone’.
For those who have studied a discipline, such as a martial art, they will recognise it as the state you can achieve after a lifetime of focused continuous repetitive practice so that your form becomes second nature.
In this state, your movement is natural and appears effortless and you seem to blend with your opponent so that you may control and overpower them with apparent ease. In this state, you sense all that is around you and your place within it and move to position yourself for strength without conscious thought. You do it because you know that is where you need to be.
It is a lifetime’s work because no matter how good you become, you realise that there is always another stage of refinement that you can move to. The more you learn, the more you understand how much you do not know, and how much better you need to become.
In a business context, it is continual improvement focused on delivering greater customer value every day.
Consider how great your business could become if you commenced on a journey of never-ending improvement and strengthening.
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All the best in the success of your business,