Monday, July 13, 2009

Make Goals Actionable!

One of the key jobs of a leader is to both define the vision of an organization and to help set it's goals. Unfortunately, though, most goals set by leaders lack "Action-ability" for those whose responsibility it is to make the goals a reality.

That is to say that the goals set by leadership are great organizational goals, but the lower ranks of the organization, the employees, struggle understanding how THEIR actions can and will help achieve the goals.

So, along with the setting large "top level" goals that drive the organization in the direction it needs to go, great leaders also break down the big goals into action-able goals for each segment of the organization.

An Example From Naval Aviation

"On the average" there is at least one major accident / incident that either takes a Sailor's life or hurts him severely every time a Carrier Battle Group (the Aircraft Carrier and it's supporting entourage) prepares for and ships out for a 6-Month Deployment.

As such, to be inspirational and to change the "seemingly inevitable outcome", every Commanding Officer, preparing to deploy, sets a goal of NO Major Accidents and ZERO fatalities for the cycle. It is a very worthy goal - one that everybody on the crew can get behind.

Unfortunately, this goal lacks action-ability at the individual level.

The goal is intended to inspire the crew to "be safe" in everything they do. But too often, most sailors get a "salty" attitude after being at sea for a while that makes them think that it's not them that is going to get hurt, but instead SOMEONE else. "Salty Sailors" loose their focus on their own "personal" safety, believing the individuals that are going to get hurt or cause an accident are the "newbies" of the crew.

Although it is likely that the "green" crew members are most likely to be accident prone, on the flight deck of an Aircraft Carrier at sea, it only takes a second of inattention to detail and you could lose your life - flight deck ops are not age discriminate.

Unfortunately, very rarely is this goal of "NO Major Accidents and ZERO Fatalities" met.

As it turns out, in my last Squadron, I had one Skipper who refused to set that goal. In fact as a command (our squadron), we had no organizational-wide safety goals. He didn't like the idea of big goals, because he didn't feel that it was "actionable" by each person. Based on his experience, a command wide safety was TOO BIG, and left the average sailor dis-empowered to take action - putting all the burden on every one else.

Instead, for the deployment, he had every person in the squadron commit to setting a personal goal of coming home safely with no major injuries. He empowered each member of our squadron to achieve their own "personal" goal of a safe return . . . and it worked.

Think about it. By changing the goal from a command-wide goal to individual goals, each sailor felt ownership - could see how they were able to directly contribute to the goal.

Turn Your Larger Goals Into Action-able Plans

The truth is what my old Commanding Officer really did was put "actionability" into the bigger goal. And he did so by putting personal accountability into the process.

Large goals are important - they create eustress that draws your forward. But the when it comes to living each day, "Large Goals" are tough. It's often hard to decide what needs to be done each and every day, when the goals are "too big".

Doubling your sales and / or profits on a business level or wanting to lose 25 pounds within 1 year on a personal level is wonderful. But what does that mean you have to do TODAY.

When it comes living your goals, your "actionability" doesn't go any further than today. It doesn't do any good to worry about what you are going to do next week, next month or even tomorrow. TODAY is all you can affect.

Make sure that your goals are turned into actionable plans, that include small bite sized, manageable tasks that you can focus on and accomplish. And when you build your plan correctly, each small step you take, gets you a step closer to your Large Goal.

Bottom line - Focus your energy on what you CAN do today - the action-able little steps that make the big goals a reality over time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the follow on twitter, I really enjoyed the senerio you have in this particular post and I am excited knowing I may be able to aquire some very valuable information from you,.
    Thanks again so much BLKPTDS (Dan Marcous)