How to Set Organizational Goals in an Unpredictable Time
One of the most important elements of Griffin Hill founder Scott Baird’s goal-achieving strategy is making sure that your goals are range goals
I would guess that everyone reading has, at some point, been given the advice to set measurable goals. This is important. In order to know how much progress you’re making toward achieving your goals, you need to have some kind of heuristic. You need a way to measure success without subjectivity in order to be sure of your progress.
What many people don’t realize, and a goal-achieving strategy that Griffin Hill developed, is that once you set a goal with a single endpoint, you immediately put yourself at risk of failure in two ways.
“Having a pinpoint goal exterminates achievement behavior.” Scott says.
It is rare that we are able to create a pinpoint goal that is attainable and reasonable within a viable timeframe that is also our end goal, our desired outcome. Most often, we set smaller, more reasonable goals, achievable within a viable time frame, that partially get us there. With enough of these, we can make it to our desired outcome.
However, if that goal is a pinpoint, once you achieve that goal, you lose the incentive and drive to achieve even more. Without a solid plan for what comes next, you stall out and lose the energy that made you an achiever. This results in complacency, the first of the two paths to failure.
When you achieve a goal but still have progress that you need to make, you feel a genuine sense of accomplishment but lose the motivation you need to continue succeeding. Many people who achieve reasonable pinpoint goals end up falling back on their progress because they lose focus. As Scott says, “As a result of exterminated achievement behavior, you lose the progress you made and then some.”
The second pinpoint mistake is to set a goal that is your desired outcome, but that is no longer reasonable to effectively work towards. It’s too far off. The time frame is too long and the required progress is too great for you to really comprehend it from your current position. This results in apathy, the second major risk.
The goal is so far off and the results so distant, that you lose the motivation to continue working.
Griffin Hill’s solution to this dilemma is to set range goals. Range goals make your target a range of acceptable outcomes rather than a single one.
If you set a range goal, neither of the problems above apply because your goal is flexible. Ideally, the stretches are larger than the affordances, but the goal is still more attainable than a pinpoint because it anticipates your response to effort and achievement. “Range goals enhance achievement behavior rather than exterminate it.”
In a company, range goals are essential. There are many aspects of commercial success that you can’t control, variables that you can’t plan for. Range goals more accurately represent the changing definition of success in your business.
People are calling right now the “Coronavirus Era”. Success doesn’t look the same as it did this time last year. That’s okay; most of us can do little more than wash our hands to prevent its spread. Range goals account for disruptors like Coronavirus. They keep you on track even when the way you define success changes.
As long as you are working on your goal and continuously making progress, you’re not failing.
And when something happens that you couldn’t plan for, you won’t be entirely unprepared.