Building trust is vital and required.
It’s enough to drive you nuts…
I’ve been thinking a lot about vision and goals lately. As the incoming president of my business networking chapter, I’ve been meeting with the outgoing leaders, my leadership team, our regional leadership, and other strong leaders and leadership coaches within the organization, as well as talking with other leaders (not to mention the guidance and advice available from so many in books and online….). I keep pulling back, looking for simplicity and clarity….an awareness of the possible while casting my thoughts wider to “Why?” and larger destinations and possibilities.
The idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals is pretty well known. As a review, S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- Specific – Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you’re going to do.
- Measurable – Goals should be measurable. In this way you have tangible evidence that you’ve accomplished them. These can include the Big Goal measurement as well as measured milestones.
- Achievable – Goals should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve them.
- Results-focused (or Relevant) – Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.
- Time-bound – Goals should be linked to a time-frame of some kind that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the desired end-state. Keep in mind the Achievable aspect of the goal when setting the time-frame, of course.
Vision is a different kind of animal. Very different. Setting a goal for monthly sales or post engagement on Facebook for the quarter is not a vision. When building goals we tend to look at the recent past as a starting point and build on that (or, if starting something new, look at a similar process, product or business, try to extrapolate an “oranges to tangerines” comparison…not exact, but close enough…). Creating an effective vision means freeing myself from my existing reality and think broadly of possibilities and destinations. This is not “pie-in-the-sky” dreaming, but a deep look at an ideal future. Several writers I have come across lately use Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “I Have A Dream” speech as an example of visionary leadership. While his goals within that speech included a number of the steps that would be needed to make headway toward the vision, the vision was So Much Bigger. He described exactly what the American scene would look like when the full impact of his goals were felt and implemented. One famous section is:
“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
In your mind’s eye you can see what that looks like! It is so much more grand that the end points of a number of goals.
Goals may be ambitious by themselves. A big one mentioned by another writer was when President John F. Kennedy committed the country to placing a man on the moon and returning him by the end of the 1960s. Huge Goal! But what came after? Other than getting there and back again, what else was there? Hence the problem of coming up with a compelling vision for further space travel and exploration (although a number of futurists, respected scientists and writers try). There is, at present, no strong, heart-stirring vision for exploration and travel that we can, as a society, turn to and say, “That’s it! Let’s go!”
Apply this exercise to your business. When you sat down and created your business plan, you undoubtedly created goals, milestones, and outlined some measurable processes to reach those goals. But, speaking to your vision, why are you actually in business? What does your community, your industry, your world look like as a result of you having created this business, provided what you provide to your customers, and spent so much time and so many resources on its success?
Is your vision a “shining city on a hill”? You can make it so.
There was an item on the local news the other night that I found fascinating. A number of students at the university campus were holding a rally advocating for a Diversity Center as a gathering place that would acknowledge the diversity of the campus and provide a place and programs that would focus on that aspect of their identity. Given the cash-strapped condition of higher education, my immediate thought was “re-inaugurate the Student Union as the Student Diversity Center and you’re done!”
Every business hits this wall at some time.
While completing my Masters degree I was vicariously introduced to Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School and his many works (a sample) concerning disruptive innovation. Greatly interesting stuff and
required reading for anyone in business or those who are creative and wish to understand the business world’s take on how this is perceived and understood, as well as the potential effects thereof.
I was recently discussing the pros and cons of various personnel review and commitment systems/styles with a close colleague of mine. She was saying something like, “It’s just like a horse race. One year you put your all into the race and win. The next year you put just as much effort and work into the race as the year before, if not more, and nine others finish ahead of you.” The implication is that this gives the folks putting on the race the impetus to……what? Give last year’s horse sugar for running a great race? Trying the horse at different races? Retiring the horse to pasture?
It seems that the climate in many organizations implies a future involving a glue factory. Why is this?
You’ve heard it before…
You’re in a meeting and someone is presenting an idea or proposal that they’ve placed an enormous amount of time and effort into. This is their BABY. It’s obvious they’ve done some research, talked to some experts and influencers. They got the data, did the analysis and did all the right things. There are some gaps, maybe…..perhaps a blind sport or two. Then it happens:
“What about XXX!?” (XXX = name of gap or blind spot goes here)
“That’s just obvious!” “How could you miss that?!” “Well, that’s no good…” “You’ll have to do better than that to convince me!” “We just need smarter people on this, apparently!” [Yes, I’ve heard that in meetings…]
“Don’t take it personally….it’s just business.”
I’m sorry, no. It’s never just business.