Use These Key Attributes in Building a Better Organizational Goal

Defining organizational goals is like riding a bike, right? If you’ve done it before it’s easy to pick it up and do it again. It’s pretty straightforward. So, let’s start with those things you probably already know.

When building great organizational goals supported by the right measures and targets be sure to:

  • Provide direction, clarity and momentum to achieving your organizational vision.
  • Keeps it clear and simple. Remember, it should make sense to everyone.
  • Keep it SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, responsible and time-bound)
  • Keep it outcome-based and cross-functional.

You got this right? It’s just like riding a bike. Well, kind of.

Designing great organizational goals isn’t always that simple. There are a lot of subtle nuances, which will have dramatic impact on both effectiveness and organizational alignment.

For example:

  • Focus on what’s truly important: One of the biggest mistakes we often see are people who come up with too many organization goals. Quality is better than quantity as too many goals take focus away from what’s truly important.
  • Make the goal meaningful: Often people simply write goals that state the quantitative target they want to see like “generate 10M in revenue.” Sure, it’s simply stated, but they don’t inspire or provide any context for why these goals are important.  Spend time adding character to the goals, don’t just repeat the measure and target.
  • Measure what you want to see: This is a little more complicated. Often people write goals that say, “increase revenue by 20%.” The challenge is when reporting progress against a goal people want to see the actual revenue target, not a percent increase. A better approach is to use “total revenue” as the measure with a target based on the actual dollar amount equaling a 20% increase.

Lastly, ask yourself how far is your trajectory? We’ve heard it described as “are you shooting for the moon or the mountains?” What’s the difference? When shooting for the moon your organizational goals are lofty and bold. They’re serious stretch goals. Sometimes shooting for the moon is the right thing to do. It’s motivational. So if shooting for the moon, be sure to carry this same trajectory when defining departmental and team member measures and targets. Don’t tie comp structures to moon goals.

But what does it feel like to aim for the mountains? For one, you don’t need a Hubble telescope to see it. It’s clearly in your line of site. It’s achievable. Targets, while aggressive, are reasonable.

The lens from which you measure the distance of your target needs to be consistently applied throughout the organization. If the organizational target is 10 miles away, so should the targets associated for your department and team member goals. If it’s 238,900 miles away, (actual distance to the moon) then use the same trajectory for departments and individual targets.

You get the picture. It’s like riding a bike.

StrategyCheck: Where are you playing and how will you ensure you’re going to win?

One Comment

  1. steve ayuba says:

    thank you Jeff for these simple attributes on goal setting.



What is 8 + 12 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
All fields are required.

Join 60,000 other leaders engaged in transforming their organizations.

Subscribe to get the latest agile strategy best practices, free guides, case studies, and videos in your inbox every week.

Keystone bright-path authority-partners iowa caa maw maryland mc kissimmee dot washoe gulf reno