Posted tagged ‘Objectives’

Developing Success Measures

February 18, 2009

One of the more pressing questions asked of President Obama recently was how the American people could tell if the stimulus package was effective. What he was actually being asked to address was the concept of success measures.

In the business world, success measures are what we call “goals.”

Here’s why goals are so important.

  • Goals and objectives are the links between the organizational vision and the new environment.
  • Goals clarify expectations about what needs to be done to help the organization make the transition into the envisioned environment.
  • Goals give direction to individuals and teams for planning and executing change.
  • Goals tell us what we need to do. As such, goals must be measurable.

We measure for a variety of reasons:

  • Tells us if we are winning
  • Defines performance and gives people an observable and quantifiable way to measure progress over time
  • Tells people what really counts and is desirable
  • What gets measured is what gets done
  • Publishing measures makes things change – it shines a light
  • Measures make commitments real – otherwise it may be perceived as a wish or a good idea
  • Forces confusion and misunderstanding into the open by creating an opportunity for alignment
  • Pulls people together

Without goals, we are like Alice in Wonderland as she asked directions of the Cheshire Cat. “Would you please tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t care much where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “As long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “If you only walk long enough.”

The Four Questions You Must Answer and The Importance of Your Vision

September 4, 2008

It’s time then to get down to the more practical aspects of creating a business strategy.

Fundamentally speaking, every strategic plan must answer these four questions and they must be answered in this very logical progression:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What are we?
  3. What do we want to be?
  4. What can stop us from getting there?

The answer to the first question is articulated in the mission and vision of the company. The mission states what business we are in and what we do and provide for our clients.

However, it is the vision of what the company hopes to become that establishes the strategic direction for the organization. An effective vision lays out a future about what the company hopes to become. It typically is uncomfortable, much like clothing that is too big because it doesn’t fit who we are today. (I still remember that as a child, my Mom would always say “don’t worry, you’ll grow into it.” Visions are just like that.)

The vision states the value that we are ultimately committed to providing to our clients, employees, stockholders and even ourselves. It motivates us to stretch beyond where we are today.

Establishing a vision first is critical because it becomes our corporate compass. It sets a direction and destination for the company. The tactical options that we choose to implement must propel us towards reaching that destination, and so, the vision helps us to make intelligent choices. When opportunities present themselves we are able to evaluate them in a context of whether it moves us forward and whether it moves us forward more effectively than the other options that are available to us.

It is important to recognize that understanding the vision is a requirement for every member of the organization. If you subscribe to the belief, as I do, that every job in a company is meaningful – otherwise why do it or pay someone to do it? – then you must conclude that every employee will be expected to make choices on behalf of the company. The greatest tool that we may provide to our people is the vision as it will provide the context for so many decisions.

A vision is very different from goals and objectives. Goals and objectives are predictions of what we are going to accomplish or do in the next weeks or months or quarter to get to our vision. The vision though must come first as it is the foundation for goal setting that is based in the future and not in the past.


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