Different types of goals – personal and professional – require different behaviours. We’ve always stretched to define goals as outcomes, but it’s not always useful when pursuing those goals.
We used to be so obsessed with outcomes that it was our tagline.
But we were wrong.
Outcomes are important. But obsessed? Mmm, maybe a bit aggressive…
We still help companies of all kinds set and pursue their most ambitious goals. But we’ve realised goals differ. Some are outcomes. Others aren’t.
Today’s post intends to help you classify goals. Allow me to explain.
I set goals at the start of each year. However, I realise different goals require different mindsets.
Personal goals could look something like this:
1. Read 24 books
- Some goals are easily measurable and reasonably predictable.
2. Create a Rx million business
- Some are stretch goals – I’m not sure if this is possible, but it’s a worthy and ambitious pursuit.
3. Write a book
- Some goals are experiments – I don’t know what this entails or even know where to start.
4. Run five times a week
- And then some goals are healthy habits – their value isn’t measurable, but I know they will impact my health and overall wellness. There’s enough research and evidence to back this up.
When you set goals, it’s a great discipline to try articulating them as outcomes. But when you pursue goals, outcomes-driven goals need a different approach to process-driven goals.
There are two variables in the four goals above – predictability and measurability.
When goals are predictable and measurable, they don’t need a lot of additional effort. You’ll manage what you measure.
When goals aren’t predictable, they need significant effort. You can’t focus on more than 3 or 4 of these simultaneously.
On top of this, when goals aren’t measurable, you need one of two mindsets. Either:
- You know it’s going to work. Just get on with it and do it.
- You have no idea whether it’s going to work. Set experiments to get feedback in as small iterations as possible.
Let’s apply it to a business. Here are four hypothetical goals:
1. Increase revenue by 8% from last year
- It’s measurable and relatively predictable.
2. Double our customer base through acquisitions
- It’s measurable, but not predictable – there is no guarantee that we’ll find a suitable target.
3. Explore operations in an alternative jurisdiction
- It’s not measurable or predictable – at this stage it’s an experiment, based on an ambition to be operational outside of our current jurisdiction.
4. Regularly communicate our strategy to the team
- There is proof that more communication works, although we’re unsure how to measure it.
Not everything needs to be an outcome. Sometimes, you need an experiment. Sometimes, you need a habit. And sometimes, you just need a KPI to measure whether you’re on track.
"All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do."
– Norman Vincent Peale
If you have questions, we’re always keen for coffee.
Get in touch so that we can brainstorm a few solutions together!