Everyone had an opportunity to sit in numerous meetings contributing in writing documents full of terms including mission, vision, goals, strategy, etc. But how many times you witnessed a creation of a real value document that helps all parties to understand simple questions:

  • why are we here?,
  • what are our goals?
  • what tools and activities we will use to reach our goals?
  • how to know that selected tools and activities are well aligned and effective in reaching goals?

Why are we here is relatively simple to answer. We are here to help the owner to reach its goals.

What are our goals? This one can be tough. Many companies fail to establish a clear and understandable goals so management and employees have to rely on assumptions and that can lead to clashes, establishment of clans and many different issues producing problems every day. How to detect this? I think the good test is if you cannot explain why you or your peers are doing something that you cannot connect to known goals. General confusion starts when people do not understand how daily actions are helping us to reach goals. Second issue is with companies that establish too generalized goals from the class of “nice to have” ones. A car factory can set its goal to “produce best cars worldwide”. Can we measure that? Yes if we declare that under “best” we consider highest sales or highest number of produced cars or highest profit margin or highest yield for investors. See, it is very helpful if you set your goals to be specific. Then, everyone will understand your actions and your business will perform as well oiled machine.

How to get there? This is the reason to employ great professionals because they will help you to select the best tools and methodologies for reaching goals. Also, in discussion with your “first layer of management”, generally a board of executives, you will put some possible dates, split your journey in short measurable phases and after that majority of your job will be to track its progress. When you discuss specific methodologies, you have to ask about why one is outperforming another and equally important: “how will we know that expectations are not met?”. Never allow tools to become goals. Example is that if buying of ocean-view apartments for real estate company will have the highest yield than it is aligned with goals, but if it is just to have a nice apartment portfolio owned, than we have a problem.

One really interesting thing I’ve learned at Harvard Business School are caveats when “someone is in love with its idea or solution”. Why caveats? Because in that case solution can be both a gold mine and a complete failure. Never forget that, usually, people who are in love with ideas are not objective. You have to invent a way how to measure that solution with numbers. In many cases it will really show that solution was a brilliant one, but that has to be proven by numbers and those numbers have to follow end goals of the business. You want assembly line to increase production from 30 to 50 cars in a day? If that is a goal, than measurement has to be some counting of produced cars.

Last piece is mingling among unclear and generalized goals. What then? Based on my experience, if you are an auditor, always trust actions you see more than goals you hear. Why? Because actions show what people think goals are. If you are buying a new machine that will help you to reach those 50 cars in a day and after one year you see that you decreased from 30 to 25 cars and in the same time your expenses doubled, you have a problem. Also, if everyone thinks that new machine is “bringing business to the next level”, never forget to ask yourself how everyone overheard you that goal was 50 cars in a day.

Managing of business is nothing but science. That means that dogmas are not welcome and that we have to question and measure everything and provide enough info for others to measure and reach similar conclusions. You have to be able to do all magic and use all your and your teammates knowledge to help business reach its goals.