Culture: Mission – Goals and Objectives

by Ron Potter

Looking at the Mission quadrant of great cultures in more detail brings us to the Goals and Objectives element.

Tied to the Vision

Before anything else, goals and objectives must be aligned with the vision. People must see how accomplishing these specific goals and objectives will move the company towards that long-term vision.

Ambitious but Realistic

Many studies of high achieving individuals, teams, and companies reveal some interesting facts.  High Achievers set goals that they believe they have a 75% probability of achieving.  Once these “public” goals have been stated, they will internally work hard to reach goals they think they have about a 50% probability of achieving.

This formula says there is at least a 25% chance of failure (realistic) and then when they hit a higher goal with a lower chance of probability, they achieve an ambitious goal.

But one of the more interesting parts of these studies is that if publicly stated goals have less than a 50% probability, that becomes demotivating.  Corporate leaders must be careful not to set goals that are demotivating but are ambitious.  It’s a fine line that great cultures achieve.

Widespread Agreement

Gaining agreement is often more difficult than it seems on the surface.  Different functions within an organization attract people with varying patterns of thought.  Some of the easiest ones to see are the designers vs. the manufactures.  Designers are artistic.  They use different parts of their brain and think about style and form.  Manufactures are often hands-on engineers.  Things are matter-of-fact and practical.  Making the most beautiful, cost-effective product often create opposing views.  Leaders must help the organization balance these conflicting goals to reach the ultimate vision.

Track Progress

Goals and Objectives don’t carry much value if we don’t know where we are on our journey.

This is a personal story that I’ve shared before, but I have used many times with great success to help teams move forward along their journey.

When my children were very young, we lived in Utah, but much of our family resided in Michigan.  Every summer we would make that 1,600-mile trek, often in a small car.  It seemed to me that we hadn’t even reached the border between Utah and Wyoming when I would hear the question from the back seat, “are we there yet?”  I soon banned that question from our family vocabulary. But I did give each child a detailed map and told them they could ask, “Where are we?” as many times as they wanted.  They quickly figured out that when they plotted the first point on the map that we had a long way to go, and the frequency of questions diminished rapidly.

People want to know where they are on the Trek.

Measuring progress:

  • Identifies accomplishments on a regular basis
  • Identifies goals to be accomplished next
  • Motivates them to work harder on the next goal
  • Helps accomplish the overall journey sooner.
Goals and Objectives
  • Tied to the Vision
  • Ambitious but Realistic
  • Widespread Agreement
  • Progress Tracked

These elements of Goals and Objectives are another aspect of great cultures.

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