President Kennedy is famous for setting the target of getting America to the Moon by the end of the decade.
It was the swinging 60s and against all odds the US succeeded. It was a fantastic achievement, and even now, looking back it seems incredible. The key was that while the target was a stretch, it was do-able. Also, President Kennedy didn’t confuse things with a pile of other challenges.
This episode is full of lessons for business strategy. In business we need to set realistic targets too, they motivate us and they force us to focus on the things that really matter.
For targets to succeed they need to be pursued consistently over time. That means they must be really well thought through before they are set. Bad targets, or ones that get changed frequently, are of no value at all. The macho style of management that sets an unrealistic agenda and then pushes people beyond breaking point is also plain bad management. The real benefits accrue when targets are important, realistic and clear and are then pursued in a single-minded way.
An example of a good target might be to “increase our repeat business as a proportion of sales to 40% by the end of next year”. This target is measurable and is set within a clear time scale.
Once a target is set, a plan must be created to enable it to be met. Then the whole company needs to be aligned around the target and the plan. The best way to achieve this is to involve a wide range of people in the original target setting and planning exercise.
Unlike the Moon shot, it’s not rocket science. It reminds me of the saying “blessed is he that aims for nothing, for he always hits his target!”
Are we all aiming to land on the Moon? Probably not. But having a realistic goal is the first step in achieving business success. It’s well worth some deep consideration.
Chris Barling, SellerDeck