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It’s not too late to set targets for this year!



Did you intend to do your 2024 planning in December, but here we are, already deep into January? 


No worries. It’s not too late to set some goals. In fact, it’s the perfect time, as you’ve hopefully had a little break and are coming back fresh and rested after the holidays. You don’t need to bring in a consultant or block off a whole day to map out your targets. A couple of hours of focused work can set you on a good course. 


In this post, the first of our three-part series on moving from strategy to results, we outline some simple ways to get going, focusing on your strategy. In Part 2, we look at how to set results-oriented goals using our SET form. In Part 3, we’ll look at the high-value actions, what we call performance drivers, and what it takes to make them happen. But first: 


  1. START WITH YOUR STRATEGY.


In early January, I got a rather panicked call from a new client who’d recently been named general manager of a national construction company. 


The industry was new to him, and he was busy learning about the business. Meanwhile, the annual sales team meetings, where the year’s targets would be set, were fast approaching. 


“I'm trying to figure out how to make our time together valuable,” he says. 


Let’s start with your strategy, I suggested. What does it say? 


“Well, instead of quoting every job, which we used to do, now we’re only going to quote jobs that matter.” 


Hmm. I was starting to see why he was struggling. For starters, their “strategy” wasn’t a strategy at all. It was a tactic. 


This happens a lot, and it helps explain why so few organizations successfully get the results they want. 


Many clients confuse goals, strategies, tactics, and actions. When the relationship between these ingredients for results is blurred, it creates confusion and makes it hard to get everyone aligned to move forward together. 


So, just to recap: 

  • Strategy tells us, at a high level, where the organization wants to go and how it will position itself to create a competitive advantage. 

  • Goals give us specific targets to move in that direction (more on that in Part 2 of this series)

  • Performance drivers (or critical actions) are the things we need to do to get there (see Part 3) 


Your strategy is your North Star that guides all of your goal-setting. It really is the first step to driving results. 


But too often, these plans collect dust. If that’s the case for your organization, pull out the document, determine what’s still relevant, and think about how to flow this into three to five specific strategic goals. Some general questions to kick off the discussion:

  • Where are our growth opportunities?

  • What differentiates us?

  • What target markets do we want to be in? What do customers in those target markets value?

  • Where should we consider reinvesting?

And if your strategy needs refreshing, check out our earlier post on how to design and execute your best strategic thinking session yet. 


  1. MAXIMIZE YOUR ASSETS.


We see many clients burning themselves out pursuing new customers, building new products, and chasing new markets when their existing assets still have a lot of juice left to be squeezed. 


Instead of always going after what's next and what's new, the smartest move might be doubling down on what’s already working. 


As you think about potential goals, ask yourself: 

  • What do we do exceptionally well? 

  • How might we expand our offerings? 

  • For service-based companies, how might we productize our expertise? 

  • What opportunities do we have to upsell to existing clients? 




In many of our client's businesses, we see the 80/20 rule play out in terms of products and profit, with 20% of their offerings generating the majority of the business. What’s your 20%? What goals might maximize it? 






  1. CONNECT TO YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE.

I know a builder whose differentiator is an iron-clad commitment to project timelines. If he says the roof will be on by Dec. 1, it’s as good as done. 


This delivery commitment creates a huge advantage over the competition, who won’t make promises because of the challenges of scheduling subcontracting tradespeople. 


This example is interesting because the service he provides – the construction – isn’t innovative. What is unique and gives him an edge is how he manages the tradespeople on which the construction industry depends. 


What advantages, unique value propositions, or proprietary products or services set you apart from the competition? How might they be leveraged to help you reach your goals? 


In our next post, the second in our three-part series on moving from strategy to results, we look at how to set results-oriented goals using our S.E.T. form.  In Part 3, we’ll look at the high-value actions, what we call performance drivers, to take to make it happen.

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