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The Path To Success

Everyone wants a money-making venture, but you can’t get there just by saying “Make It So” as Captain Picard used to say.  He had his mission statement defined.  And so did Captain Kirk before him. Many fans remember the opening line of the series:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

So, before we can make it so, let’s decide who, what, where, when and how we get there!

Which comes first? Mission or Vision?
For a new start up business, new program or plan to re-engineer your current services, the vision statement will be formulated first as it will guide the mission statement and the rest of the strategic plan. For an established business where the mission is established, often the mission guides the vision statement and the rest of the strategic plan for the future.

A strategy is a larger, overall plan that can include several tactics, which are smaller, focused, less impactful plans that are part of the overall plan.  While the original usage of these terms was in a military context, they are also used in a wide variety of everyday settings, especially business.

Think through your business goals with strategy and tactics in mind.  Think “big Picture” overall plan comprised of several mini-goals to be conducted over long periods of time. And then fine-tune it with smaller tasks or procedures that you can put in place now to get you to the larger end goal.

Thoughts to help you to Define Your Mission
§ How are you going to get to where you want to be?

§ What do we as an organization do?

§ What makes us different from our competitors

§ List your broad goals.

o Ask yourself, “Why did I form the business?”

o Why should my customers choose my business over others?

o Define the key measure that you believe defines your success.

o Who is your leadership team, i.e. who needs to be involved?

§  Assess your customer needs.

§ Conclude by using the above information and define your core values.

§ Then develop a mission statement by answering the questions below:

o  What do we do today

o For whom do we do it

o Why do we do what we want to do:

o What, for whom and why.

§  When you’ve created your Mission Statement, evaluate its effectiveness.

o Does it define your purpose and values?

o  Who are the organizations primary clients?

o What are the company’s responsibilities to its clients?

Define Your Vision

Once you’ve reviewed your values and goals, picture it in conjunction with “This is who I am” and “This is where I am”.  Now ask yourself, “What do I want to be and how do I get there?”  The purpose of a vision is to provide direction. Effective visions are a combination of ideas that express the following:The organization’s purpose, their reason for existence.

· The organization’s core values, who they are and striving to become.

· The organization’s value proposition, what makes them unique, what they are they good at and why it matters

· The organization’s strategic intent, a stretch goal and future aspirations.

Some Benefits of effective visions are as follows:

· Vision provides direction and helps the organization prepare for the future.

· Vision provides guidance for decision-making.

· Vision shapes the organization’s strategy.

· Vision guides the types of people you hire and promote.

· Vision defines what you will and what you will not do.

·         Vision helps set priorities and guides planning.

·         Vision aligns people and activities across the organization.

·         Vision reflects an organization’s core values and beliefs.

·         Vision empowers people and helps focus their efforts.

If you have a handle on the why’s and are ready to buy into developing your Company’s Mission/Vision, it is time to sit down with key players and “Make it so.”  Remember, your key players are critical to success. When they are party to understanding the big picture and the mission/vision and strategic goals, success is more likely. In simple terms, it’s not enough to say “climb the mountain”.  People need to understand which mountain and why the mountain is worth climbing.  Today’s unsettled times require fast and effective action and this means people cannot spend time checking with an executive every time a critical decision needs to be made.  An effective company vision provides the “North Star”, by which we can navigate in times of uncertainty or in our everyday actions.

Setting successful strategic goals.
We all instinctively know that goal setting is a powerful means for achieving success.  Goal setting as a means for bringing about change and improved performance is not a new idea. Nearly 2300 years ago the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about four causes of change and one of the causes he identified was what he called the final causes – an exploration into why things came about. Aristotle identified the final cause as one of the as change happening as the result of a defined purpose or end goal. The idea being that purpose or an end result is a catalyst for change. In setting goals, remember your team members are motivated by the accomplishment of goals.  Remember, get them involved.
This research showed that the achievement of goals is directly related to the extent that these five principles are present.  Let us explore each of the five principles of effective goal setting[1] in more detail1)    

1)  Clarity

2) Challenge

3) Commitment

4) Feedback

5) task complexity

Unclear goals are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to effective goal setting.  The more specific or explicit goal, the more precisely performance is regulated. Clarity is about knowing exactly what you are trying to achieve and by when. When goals are specific we mean that they are measurable, that is we are able to measure the goal’s outcomes. A clear goal is measurable and time-bound. Measurable goals remove ambiguity and help you focus. Clear and specific goals result in higher performance. This is because measurable goals are more effective at guiding action and behavior. Use strong action verbs such as conduct, develop, build, plan, execute, etc. Also, as so often quoted, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! And of additional importance, measurements help us to know when we have achieved our objective.

While it is a good start to have clear goals, it is just as important to set challenging goals. Research found that people are motivated by challenging goals. In fact, the more difficult and specific a goal is, the harder people will work to achieve it. When goals are too easy or too difficult people will not put forth their best effort.
Challenging and specific goals create a gap between current and expected performance and therefore motivate greater effort and persistence. Not only do challenging goals motivate people to work harder. People believe that difficult goals are more rewarding, they believe that the more challenging a goal the bigger the satisfaction and reward. When you next set goals ensure they are challenging yet realistic, difficult yet attainable.

Research shows that people perform better when they are committed to achieving their goals. It is your emotional commitment to your goals that provides the motivation and perseverance demanded by challenging goals. Failing to take time to build rational and emotional commitment to your goals makes achieving them unlikely.

To achieve challenging goals you have to believe in what you are doing and why you are doing it. You must believe that what you are doing is important and that the outcomes matter. Commitment makes it more likely that you will persevere in the face of difficulties, obstacles and setbacks. Commitment builds the resilience necessary to achieve challenging goals. High commitment to goals is attained when (a) the individual is convinced that the goal is important; and (b) the individual is convinced that the goal is attainable (or that, at least, progress can be made toward it). Also ensure you have devoted sufficient resources in support of your goals. The availability of resources to support your goal is an essential component required to build commitment. Ask yourself if you can get it done in the proposed time frame and if you have the available resources dedicated to the task. Resources include people, money, skills, equipment and knowledge.

Once you have set your goals it’s important to track and monitor your progress. Tracking the progress you are making in achieving your goals builds motivation and commitment. You don’t just set goals and review them at the scheduled completion date. You must track your progress, get feedback and make adjustments along the way. This ensures you remain on track and motivated. Tracking your progress ensures your goals remain effective and that you sustain commitment. When working towards achieving your goals make time for feedback and review. Schedule a dedicated time to review your goals, such as a weekly or monthly review. Use this time to identify challenges and make adjustments to stay on track.
Setting specific, challenging and difficult goals can result in increased task complexity. Complex tasks which need to be completed to achieve your goals can be overwhelming. If they are not carefully managed, complex tasks can cause you to lose motivation and erode commitment. Eventually becoming huge obstacles that stand in the way of your goals. Given this you will need to take special care to manage complex tasks. You can manage task complexity by breaking complex tasks down into smaller chunks of sub-tasks. Then craft a road map of smaller sub-tasks that need to be completed on your way to achieving your big goal. This means you will need to develop a plan to guide you on your journey. Plans help prevent you from getting overwhelmed by task complexity.

Plans also help you to remain motivated, take action and monitor your progress. Research shows that learning goals should be used rather than performance goals when dealing with complex tasks.  When people strive for goals on complex tasks, they are least effective in discovering suitable task strategies if: (a) they have no prior experience or training on the task; (b) there is high pressure to perform well; and (c) there is high time pressure (to perform well immediately).”  So to overcome that stumbling block, you will also need to manage complex tasks by identifying where you have knowledge and skills gaps. Once you have identified your gaps consider setting a number of learning goals. Also make sure that you give yourself sufficient time to improve your knowledge and skills.

And once again set a deadline.  When you hear “time-bound” in connection with goals and objectives, it means setting deadlines for the achievement of the objective. Deadlines create an all important sense of urgency. If you don’t set a deadline, you will reduce the motivation and urgency required to execute tasks. Deadlines create the necessary focus, helps set priority and prompts action.

In summary, follow the five principles:

1.     Make sure your goals are clear, specific and measurable.

2.      Make sure you aim high and set goals that challenge you.

3.      Make sure that you are rationally and emotionally committed to achieving your goals.

4.      Monitor your progress by developing a weekly and quarterly review process to help you stay on track.

5.      Consider the complexity of the tasks demanded by your goals and chunk them into smaller tasks when appropriate. Also be sure to make time for learning, development and growth.

If smart goal setting[1] is used along with the mission and vision of the company, with targeted end results defined, your company is well on the way to success.

With goals established (some financial, some , some customer driven, some employee driven, etc.) and prior year financial statements in hand, translate the result of your brainstorming session into meaningful measurements.  You can start from your past financial results and tweak the budget to arrive at realistic financial results, and targeted key performance indicators.
Review the preset financial templates, or use customization and even custom fields to set a standard reporting mechanism that is effective to monitor your business needs and focus points and get the reports delivered to those responsible for managing those specific areas of the business.  They can be responsible and accountable with valid, timely information with which to proactively navigate the Company’s path to success.

Go ahead, follow your North Star and Make It So.

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