Every businessperson has goals, most have lots of them. But when asked what those goals might be, most communicate their goals in “fuzzy” terms like, “more sales and profit,” “give better service,” “fewer inventory outages” or “more efficient production.”
The problem with these terms is that they can’t be measured, can’t be documented well and are not tied to a point in time. I think I would fall over in a dead feint if someone told me their goals were “to increase sales this year by 9 percent and decrease inventory outages by 25 percent."
I know that increasing sales by $10 and profit by $1 will not satisfy the “more sales and profit” fuzzy goal, but what will do it? How can anyone work to achieve a goal that isn’t defined in a specific, measurable and time-defined manner?
The genesis of this column came from an ad for the global container shipping giant Maersk I saw in Global Trade, the magazine for U.S. companies doing business globally. The ad featured eight company functions such as booking turn time, invoicing acccuracy, and dispute resolution. Each function showed the 2013 target and the 2013 result for each. Example: The 2013 target for “documentation turn time within 8 hours” was 95 percent and they achieved 98.4 percent. These are solid, measurable, and time-defined goals.
The first action I would take when given a solid, measurable and time-defined goal would be to start developing specific strategies to meet or surpass that goal. It is impossible to develop those strategies with a fuzzy goal because the target isn’t defined. It would be much like playing football without a goal line so no one would know where to run.
I strongly suggest you look at your goals, see whether they are fuzzy and if so, change them into solid, measurable and time-defined goals. From those solid goals develop stratagies, tactics, actions to measure progress towards those goals, and then inspire your team to go to work and achieve them. The only way you will get solid results is to create solid targets.