Why Concrete Goals are Better than Specific Goals


They tell us that we should set goals that are specific. But if we shoot for ‘specific’, we may end up with ‘detailed’.

And detailed goals aren’t helpful.

They tempt us to plan and manage every aspect along the way to the goals. Such a focus blinds us to innovation, better ways, and serendipity.

Here is an example of detailed goals: “We will be the number one retailer in the spaces in which we compete. We will have a 10 point increase in same-store sales with a 3 point increase in EBITDA, and a doubling of price-to-earnings. We will achieve this with efficiencies realized from completing last year’s merger, the rollout of 3 new product lines, a refresh of the store designs, a implementation of the online customer care system, a restructuring of short-term debt …” Etc. Ugh.

Far better to set clear, concrete, compelling goals that describe the results we ultimately want to see. Clear, concrete, compelling goals inspire and release everyone to apply their talents, creativity, and caring.

Here is an example of clear, concrete, compelling goals: “In two years, twice as many people will choose to do their shopping with us. 9 out of 10 clients will shop with us at least monthly. Our employees will be half as likely to leave. And we will be twice as profitable with no more than a 25 percent increase in debt.”

No details. Not a word about “how.” Just clear, concrete, and compelling desired results


In your corner,


PS: Read Jim Collins’ book Good to Great for more ideas about concrete, compelling goals.

PPS: Yes, there is room for planning with these concrete, compelling goals. The plans aren’t baked into the goals, though. They are left to the teams to figure out.

PPPS: This approach requires leaders to coach their teams with questions like, “What are all the things we can do to hit these goals? What obstacles can we anticipate? Who can help us and who can we help with their part of this?”


Today’s photo credit: TruckPR cc

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