How to Clarify Your Goals and Reach the Finish Line

October 18, 2012 Chris McChesney

“We are the most focused company that I know of or have read of or have any knowledge of.
We keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number so that
we can put enormous energy behind the ones we do choose.” -Tim Cook, Apple CEO

All too often goals lack clarity. In other words, we constantly set goals that no one can achieve because there’s no finish line; no way of telling whether you completed the goal or not and where you stand at any given point. Here are some examples of goals that lack measurement:

• “Improve inventory processing.” How much?
• “Strengthen new client relationships.” How do we measure “stronger”?
• “Identify, recruit, and retain the best employees.”How will we know if we’ve done that?

Exiting vague theory, we activate a proven set of practices that have been tested and refined by hundreds of organizations and thousands of teams over many years. Simply put, enabling organizations of all shapes and sizes to focus their finest efforts on one or two wildly important goals (WIGs) that will make all the difference, instead of giving mediocre effort to dozens of goals.

Consider the two most common focus traps:

• Do you find yourself saying ‘yes’ to all good ideas?
Do you turn everything in the whirlwind into a goal?

What is this lack of clarity in your goal-setting process costing your organization?

This dilemma is overcome by executing a matched set of 4 deceptively simple rules:

1. No team focuses on more than to WIGs (wildly important goals) at the same time.
2. The battle you choose must win the war.
3. Senior leaders can veto, but not dictate.
4. All WIGs must have a finish line in the form of ‘from X to Y by when.’

Lag vs. Lead Measures

• Lag Measures – The measurement of a result you are trying to achieve. We call them lag measures
because by the time you get the data the result has already happened; they are always lagging.
• Lead Measures – Foretell the result. They are predictive and influenceable.

Here’s a warning: Resist the temptation to oversimplify.

As a quick wrap up for now, remember, a WIG is not a strategy. A WIG is a tactical goal with a limited time frame.
Some WIGs take years to implement. Use your own judgment.

We’ll talk more about selecting the right lead measures in our next post.

About the Author

Chris McChesney

Chris McChesney is a Wall Street Journal #1 National Best Selling Author – The 4 Disciplines of Execution. In his current role of Global Practice Leader of Execution for Franklin Covey, Chris is one of the primary developers of the 4 Disciplines of Execution. For more than a decade, he has led FranklinCovey’s design and development of these principles, as well as the consulting organization that has become the fastest growing area of the company.

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