Goal-setting is an important ingredient in success. But that’s obvious. After all, how can your strategic business planning be successful unless you first determine what success looks like? “If you don’t know where you are going,” Yogi Berra once said, “you might wind up someplace else.”
Flawless Execution begins with planning and strategic business planning begins with determining your objective. Whether an objective is small and short-range or very broad and long-range, clarity is essential. For short-range goals creating clear goals is usually straightforward and simple. But, as goals begin to stretch further into the future and expand in scope, achieving clarity becomes much more challenging. Personal, career, and organizational goals require a long time to achieve and great effort. They are the result of a multitude of smaller successful goals accomplished on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual basis. So, do the long range and the short-range goals look the same? Do they take the same form? The short answer is “No.”
What do Short-Range Goals Look Like?
Mission objectives – the short-range, small goals – are “present-based.” They are executed over a time-frame of no more than a month or so. The shorter they are, the better. It helps an individual or organization to learn, iterate, and improve rapidly. There is powerful psychology at work here. As the authors of The Leading Brain (Tarcher Perigee, 2017) claim, creating a “. . . a vivid image of success can sometimes trick your brain into believing you’ve already reached your destination before you’ve even taken the first step. . . . Instead of celebrating prematurely, the brain releases dopamine and increases your motivation in anticipation of impending success.” (Pg. 125)
But, what about long-range goals?
Don’t long term goals also have to achieve the same thing? Don’t they have to be a clear vision the future? Of course they do and that is where most fail. Because scope expands greatly over time, long-range goals are extraordinarily complex. So, to define long-range goals, you must have a set of descriptions of success that form a complete whole. A single, clear statement won’t do. It needs to be a holistic, 360 degree vision of the organization and address all the major areas of the business.
For strategic business planning, we know the major areas that must be included in long-range goals. Peter Drucker first defined the set back in 1954 and we have used that early inspiration to develop long-range visions for a business. It must describe the future vision of the organization for a minimum of five balanced areas – financial, human, market, structure, and entrepreneurship. Further, each area can have more than one aspect to provide greater clarity. What it lacks in brevity, it makes up in clarity and completeness. We insist that organizations do this hard work and we call this vision the High-Definition Destination, or HDD.
HDD and Your Own Mission Plan
I’m often asked if the HDD can be used as a long-range planning tool for individuals personally or professionally. The answer is yes, but with a few modifications. A career HDD has seven key areas – interests, advancement, money, security, people/philosophy, challenge, and location (IAMSPCL). Want to expand that career HDD to a full-scope Personal HDD? Morph the categories to the following: health, family, spirituality, wealth and community service. Each requires a clear statement of what the future looks like at some particular date. When you put them all together, you will have created the high-definition, holistic clarity you need to focus and drive the specific strategies and actions necessary to build a mission plan and achieve success.