Book Excerpt: The Power of Audacity in Setting Your Company Goals, Direction
Aprio recently published the book “CEO Tools 2.0: A System to Think, Manage, and Lead Like a CEO.” Each of its seven chapters addresses a step in the CEO Tools business system. We will publish highlights of each chapter here. In this first segment are portions of Chapter 1: Set the Direction, which addresses company goals.
There’s a part in “Alice in Wonderland” when Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which way she should go. The cat asks where she’s headed, and Alice responds that she doesn’t know.
“If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there,” the cat replies.
That’s a good lesson for anyone running a business. As the leader, it’s your responsibility to set the direction for the organization. You’re also responsible for communicating company goals in clear and meaningful terms.
“Clear” means the goals are easy to understand. “Meaningful” means they are significant and relevant.
The direction of your company is represented in seven steps:
1. Values define the company culture and state what is permitted and what is not.
2. Vision portrays the ultimate version of what the company can become.
3. Mission is what you do, how you do it, whom you serve and what results you deliver.
4. Strategy is what the company will accomplish over two to three years to embody its missions, vision and values.
5. Tactics list how your strategies will be accomplished this year.
6. Actions are the short-term steps you’ll take in the coming months to accomplish the annual outcomes.
7. Goals represent the score you need to achieve to win.
The Power of Goals
Nothing leads to success like having clear, written company goals that are continually communicated to every constituency.
Everyone involved must know where the company is headed, its goals, why they’re important and what his or her role is in achieving those goals.
A few things to keep in mind about goals:
Bring the team together to set them. People will work harder to achieve goals they’ve helped create, especially when working in a group.
Communicate the goals over and over again — and then some more.
Provide rewards and feedback. Praise and reward all behavior and any results that support reaching the goals.
Big, Audacious Goals
If you want your people to accomplish amazing things, try setting big, audacious goals (BAGs) with them.
BAGs are about what’s possible, not what’s probable. They’re the bull’s-eye of a dartboard. Everyone still gets points if they miss the center but land on the board.
The best BAGs are acceptable challenges. For example, a BAG could be showing a profit in a month that usually registers a loss. A BAG can also target the number of units sold, happy customers or client cases resolved successfully.
A BAG can be aspirational — like winning a “Best Place to Work” award.
A BAG can be any measure of quality or customer satisfaction, or just about anything that can lead to outstanding performance for the organization as a whole.
Have fun by setting some challenging BAGs within your overall company goals. Make each BAG a real stretch that’s attainable with superstar effort and coordination. Make it OK to fall short of a BAG, as long as you achieve or exceed base budgets.
No matter what you decide to target and measure, the secret to success is apparent. Make sure everyone understands the BAG, has fun going for it and stays focused on it with laser-beam precision.
This, again, means setting a very clear goal and then communicating it over and over and over again.
Once you get the goal right, amazing things can happen.