You Don't Reach Your Business Goals Because You Don't Have Any by@emma_brown

You Don't Reach Your Business Goals Because You Don't Have Any

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A Harvard Business School MBA study shows that people who have a plan and written goals are ten times more efficient and successful than those who don’t. The VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) is a concept that describes the current state of the global business environment in which modern organizations have to operate. To prevent this and to achieve your business goals, you need to set a proper goal and account for the impact of the V UCA world.
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Emma Brown

You know the feeling, don’t you? You dearly wish to reach some business goal, complete an important project, learn a wanted skill. Finally, perhaps after reading some inspirational articles here on Medium, you decide to get up and go. You’re full of enthusiasm, determined to finally JUST DO IT, and all that stuff.

Then, as time moves on, your dedication starts to just… fade away. Important day-to-day tasks arise and claim your attention. Employees either fail or require regular monitoring to stay on course.

Half-way through, the business environment changes so much that you are no longer sure you even want those results anymore. At the end, you either abandon your goals altogether, or find that you’ve arrived at a place that only vaguely resembles what you were aiming for. 

To prevent this and to achieve your business goals, you need to: 

  • set a proper goal 
  • account for the VUCA world
  • use relevant tools

I will cover these aspects later in the piece, but first, would you kindly answer a simple question?

Are you sure you even have goals?

Are goals present in your life, personal or professional? Most people would reply positively. “Of course, I have a goal of learning a foreign language!”, or “My company’s goal is to increase profits.” Most people make goal lists of various time scales, for their life and their work, and then evaluate their performance, success, and self-worth by how many boxes from they checked off.

Most people are wrong.

Not in that they’re trying to set goals, no. After all, a Harvard Business School MBA study clearly showed that people who have a plan and written goals are ten times more efficient and successful than those who don’t. 

The problem is, what people claim to be their goals are in reality often just their wishes, at best. They are not concrete enough, not actionable enough, and don’t fulfill a number of important functions of a true goal.

And even if a business owner or manager engaged in setting business objectives learned their ropes, they often fail to account for the impact of the VUCA world (more about that in a moment).

What goes into setting a goal?

So, what differs a goal from an item in your wishlist? 

  • Goals are specific. Ideally, they should come with a built-in action plan, along with all sorts of milestones and checkpoints, and evoke a clear understanding of the direction you have to move. And don’t forget about deadlines!
  • Goals are measurable. Employ concrete KPIs to know exactly where you want to go. You also need quantifiable objectives to know that you are still on your target regardless of shifting business landscape or failures along the way. 
  • Goals are observable. Always make sure that you have the means to evaluate whether you’re moving towards your goals or just aimlessly fumbling about. This might seem self-explanatory, but you don’t want to set an objective to, say, increase the efficiency of a specific department only to find out later that you don’t know how to gauge it uncoupled from the other departments’ performance.

Business goal planning structure:

  1. Set the goal itself (e.g. increase profit to $1M/y)
  2. Set objectives that lead to achieving the goal (increase sales by 20% and decrease product returns by 5%)
  3. Set targets that have to be met as part of the objective (make 40 more cold calls weekly and enhance QA staff expertise)

What’s VUCA have to do with your goals?

VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) is a concept that describes the current state of the global business environment in which modern organizations have to operate. It states that nowadays, a number of new factors impact business landscape in ways that didn’t exist before. Companies should take into account these changes and VUCA in order to withstand the challenges.

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An important premise of the VUCA world is that failure in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you learn something from it. This principle is vital to any organization’s endeavor, especially for something as global and consequential as business goals.

But what if you don’t want to wait till your long-term goals fail to learn a lesson? 

In this case, you should establish an elaborated feedback loop at every stage of your business planning process: from the current situation to the original action plan, from the plan to goals, from the goals to the market analysis.

Feedback loop allows you to make timely changes to your original objectives and goals, keeps your business outlook updated and relevant.

Digital tools to set the right goals and move towards them

There’s plenty of planning and task management solutions on the market for every need and budget. Long-term planning and PM tools like Goals by KeepSolid; Balanced Scorecard software like QuickScore; business management apps like Scoro; KPI tools like Simple KPI, etc. 

These and many other services will help you ensure that your business goals are met. The only drawback is, nowadays the market is getting filled to the brim with all these dedicated and specialized tools.

Unless you’re a full-time project manager, you might find it overwhelming to find the solutions (or a combination of thereof) you need.

How to choose the tool that YOU need?

There are two easy workarounds to this problem. First, you can find a guide or a person who will explain what tools to use in your particular case, and how to set them up.

Second, and arguably more preferable if you don’t want to spend days and even weeks figuring everything out, is employing planning and management multi tools.

These solutions combine many capabilities that you can find in other services, but do this in an inherently synergistic way.

What to look for in multi tools for achieving business goals:

  • They allow to set goals (duh!) that are specific, measurable, and observable
  • They let you create objectives and tasks and assign them to specific goals
  • They streamline the planning process (e.g. using mind maps)
  • They offer task management capabilities (e.g. Kanban boards, to-do lists, sprints)
  • They allow for feedback loop (e.g. by providing reports and other monitoring options)
  • They support live collaboration with other team members

Conclusion

  1. Ask yourself if what you call a goal isn’t actually just a wish
  2. Goals must be specific, measurable, and observable
  3. Acknowledge the impact of VUCA on your business
  4. Establish feedback loop in your business processes
  5. Use relevant digital tools - either by combining them or using multi tools

(Originally published here)

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