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Alberto Fernández Terricabras, Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

A decent goal

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 09:33:09 +0000 Published in ABC (Catalonia)

A few days ago, a friend wished me a good year with an affectionate "have a decent year". It seems to me a reasonable greeting for most in these times. It is a wish, a goal, realistic. In these times when it is common both at staff and business level to think about the future and have good wishes, it is important to reflect on how to make them come true and for them it is important to set decent goals.

Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are so unattainable that they cause frustration when we do not achieve them. Let us not forget that goal is the end to which our actions are directed. How many times do we stay halfway? Could it be because we set indecent goals? It is true that only if we set very ambitious goals can we achieve objectives that seemed impossible, but we must also manage the disillusionment caused by falling halfway. Perhaps the best thing to do is to have ambitious but realistic (ergo, decent) goals and change them when they have been met in search of new attractive challenges.

Many companies are immersed in the process of planning objectives and negotiating budgets (and variable compensation). There are often cases of unrealistic goals because managers try to push them upwards. They are also overly conservative because those responsible for meeting the goals seek to avoid the challenge, effort and risk they represent. Many goal and budget planning negotiations become a bargaining game.

What are the keys to finding decent goals and then meeting them? I propose four. First, a rigorous prior analysis of the environment (external analysis), which in the case of companies would be an analysis of the economic, regulatory, customer, competitor, supplier, etc. framework . It is a question, in final, of understanding what are the opportunities and threats we face. And also an honest analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of business itself, with a plan to maintain the former and eliminate the latter. We often set goals without sufficient prior analysis.

Secondly, a good, upright, honest, transparent attitude on the part of those who plan, whether they are bosses or subordinates, seeking the common good and not deceit, seeking the reasonable challenge .

Thirdly, to plan well the actions and means (economic and human) necessary to achieve the goals. Seek resources or adapt the objectives to the existing resources. Avoid what is unnecessary, what is surplus, what is duplicated and reflect on how to achieve the goals.

And, finally, get down to work, from the very first moment. Do not put off until tomorrow what can be done today. Follow up on deviations (sometimes we plan and forget to follow up) and execute actions diligently. I wish you, at staff (adapt the text and you will see that it is also valid) and professionally, that you have a decent year and that the goals you set for yourself are achieved.