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Every business owner or manager knows that in order to succeed and grow the business, some big thinking is often required. But how high should you aim? The process of setting strategic business objectives is harder than it looks. It takes a lot more than setting stretched goals to actually see any real achievement, and there are often hidden challenges, particularly when it comes down to the execution.
If you aim high in business, even if you don’t quite make it, you will inevitably end up doing much better than you would have otherwise done. When setting your strategic objectives, thinking differently about goal setting can be a real game-changer.
For example, setting a goal to double the size of the business versus one to increase in size by 10%, will push your business much harder. The 10% goal drives thinking about how to stretch the current business, using the existing tools and assumptions. It is merely building on an existing solution that many people have already spent a lot of time thinking about.
In contrast, doubling the size of the firm requires a different mindset; one that moves away from the tendency to think in an incremental and linear manner. This opens up new possibilities that would never have been considered otherwise as the business must focus on creativity and innovation – the kind that, literally and metaphorically, can push the business to the next level.
Stretched goals or targets are by definition very big. They are risky and can take several years to achieve. The details of how to accomplish these objectives will not be known when they are set. Odds of success can be improved with disciplined strategy execution, and a ‘small wins’ framework can often help.
The objective is to break a larger goal down into smaller, manageable but interlinked parts. For each sub-goal, the team must define the various streams of work required, explicit outcomes, key deliverables, due dates, and a single owner for each component. As such, it will allow for visible and measured progress towards the completion of the larger goal while generating consistent action. Regular updates and team meetings will encourage people to be accountable for their part of the project. This will help drive the consistent execution of tasks.
What separates great businesses from those that are merely good are not just the stretched target and strategic goals they set themselves to achieve but also the way they think differently about setting those objectives, and the discipline with which they implement them.