A Word From Doug – Setting and Achieving Meaningful Goals – January 2019
Happy New Year, readers! This month, our newsletter reflects a few of our 2018 achievements, commemorates our holiday festivities, marks the departure of a key veteran and we turn to what 2019 has in store.
Whether you’re concerned with improving your diet, increasing company sales, or sticking to your departmental/household budget, New Year’s resolutions are in the air. Surely, you and those around you have started talking about how to make those goals a reality.
At Portland Internetworks, we subscribe to the old saw about eating an elephant one bite at a time. We’ve enjoyed enormous growth and success over the last several years by setting some big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs), but achievement is made by breaking those lofty goals into quarterly objectives made up of monthly and weekly tasks. Just like finishing a marathon, the real work is done by knocking down each mile at a time, and measuring success block-by-block or turn-by-turn.
As an example, we define an annual growth target of between 25-30% each year which we quickly convert into quarterly sales and headcount figures which must be met in order to achieve the annual target. Each quarter, our leadership team goes over the obstacles blocking our progress and the critical mileposts we must meet in order to support reaching our quarterly numbers. Our quarterly sales figures are then split into monthly sales numbers which are measured weekly in team stand-ups and checked-off task lists. Finally, our teams are accountable for missing figures and we celebrate our achievements and surpluses as they inevitably come. If you’ve been to our office, you can visually see our dashboard TVs that help us watch our progress at a glance.
Part of effective goal setting and achieving is our use of “S.M.A.R.T. Objectives” which I define as:
- Specific (not broad, but focused and defined)
- Measurable w/Measurement (you must know when you’ve made it)
- Achievable (I like to overachieve, but we won’t set impossible objectives)
- Relevant (the objective must actually support the overall goals)
- Time-Bound (no open-ended timeframe—pick a reasonable deadline and manage to it)
Consider a non-SMART goal such as “get healthier” versus “reduce my BMI and LDL Cholesterol by 5 and 10 points respectively by December 31 by exercising 5 days and eating fewer than 4 meals in restaurants each week”. Of course, the second version has a lot more words, but is a recipe for building good habits which support the end result. The first version isn’t a goal, it’s a fantasy.
If you or your team is struggling with open-ended goals without deadlines, metrics, or have dubious ties to your overall strategies, perhaps a review of your overall goals themselves will help focus your energy on what can be achieved and supports your true end-result. I prescribe the idea that the proper set of objectives is a better indicator of probable success than the intent or fortitude of the goal-setter.
A few tools, books, and methods I’ve leveraged along the way:
Getting Things Done – Dave Allen’s essential book on successful productivity and achievement
Todoist – Task and Project management app for mobile devices, browsers, and desktops
Bullet Journal – The most popular and simple way to achieve without digital clutter and complexity
Momentum Habit Tracker App for IOS
The rigorous and sometimes cultish Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) Gino Wickman lays out in his book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business
I’ll admit it… I am a 25-year superfan of Microsoft Excel. I’ve crossed over to the dark side and use the Office 365 cloud version for all but the most complex spreadsheets and charts.
Good luck in your 2019 endeavors, and if you have questions or tips to share about resolutions, goals, objectives or tasks, get in touch and let’s have coffee!