The goal-setting blueprint for growing organizations – How to create a 3-level strategy for setting and executing goals

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When it comes to goal setting, the roadmap to success is spiked with challenges, just like early 2000’s  Beckham’s hair. Many companies, especially those young and eager, tend to choose the by-the-seat-of-the-pants approach. They run, kick, and dribble with their tasks without ever stopping to think where the ball really is. Sometimes, it can even end with an own goal, but even when it doesn’t, it still usually causes general chaos on the field.

 

Going the right way

At Neadoo, we’ve reached a point in which we are facing different challenges than, let’s say, two or three years ago. The business is booming, the demand for our services growing constantly. The result of that is continuous recruitment and constant team growth. Eleven-player times are long gone – we are growing in numbers. Moreover, we’ve matured as an organisation. That is why we had to come up with a new gameplan. Everything to keep putting the ball in the back of the net.

There are a number of goal-setting techniques out there – some simple, some more complex. We’ve decided to combine three different approaches into one multi-level, goal-setting, deadline-smashing, idea-driving power machine. There are three levels in the organisation that we take into consideration. The global approach –  this is where your 5 or 50-year plan is set up. Then, we have the team or departments level. Last but not least, there’s the individual level – it tells you whether or not your team members know what to do and why they should do it.

 

Hugging the line

The best place to start is the organisation level. This is where you come up with your mission, vision and values. The aim here is to go broad enough to inspire people inside and outside your organisation, but at the same time be specific enough to keep the eye on the ball. A technique which can be used here that we particularly liked is the BHAG. It stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, and the name alone is odd enough to spark interest, right?

While mission and vision tend to be more corporate in style and sometimes a bit fuddy-duddy, BHAG gives you an opportunity to reach for the stars. A good BHAG is brave and adventurous. A good BHAG takes no prisoners. There are a number of different BHAGs you can go with. Some are role-model based (e.g.“We are the Uber for dog owners”), some try to find a common enemy to inspire people and glue them together (e.g. Nike’s “To crush Adidas”). An internal transformation BHAG can help your organization leave its safe haven and explore new markets (Kodak probably wishes it had a BHAG like that).

A team with a gameplan

Next in line is the team level. Here, we are going with OKRs. It’s a framework for defying and tracking objectives. It consists of the Objective, which should be qualitative. The difference between a good objective (e.g “To create a new Neadoo website”) and a great objective (“To create an awesome new Neadoo website that drives sales and wins awards”) is that the second one makes you get out of the bed in the morning and set your shoulder to the wheel because you are excited about the outcome and just a teensy bit afraid you won’t make it. The other half of OKR is the KR part, which stands for Key Results. These guys are qualitative and allow you to measure the progress of your objectives. So for the Objective above, the Key Results would be:
– to bring 30 new leads through the website’s contact form
– to have a bounce rate below 30%
– to win at least one local and one international award for the page’s design and usability

A well-constructed OKR can never be fully satisfied. You score each one between 0 and 1, and best results are when you park between 0.6 and 0.7 – enough to get things done but not enough to call it a day too soon.

 

Becoming a matchwinner

At the end of the day, when you or your teammates are planning your tasks you have to be SMART about it. That means your goal needs to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This technique has been around since the 80s so I won’t go into detail here. Except I would like to take a moment to talk about the letter “A”. Many leaders seem to forget that Attainability can vary from person to person. The sweet spot you want to aim for is a situation in which the task’s difficulty makes you slightly uncomfortable but not anxious yet. This way, the person fulfilling the task stays motivated and keeps learning instead of being bored to death or, on the contrary, worrying sick they won’t be able to meet expectations.

 

What a cracker!

The beauty of this approach is that all three levels and techniques are strongly connected. BHAG provides the vision, the engine that drives the whole organisation. OKR enables you to cascade your goals and make sure that everybody plays to the same gateway. The SMART technique lets you measure the outcome and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Good game and good luck!

 

Graphic credit: https://pixabay.com/

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