A goal, or idea, not written down is only a wish. According to Brian Tracy in his book Goals!, there is a study that reveals just how effective written goals can be. Here is what Tracy reports:
Mark McCormack, in his book What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, tells of a Harvard study conducted between 1979 and 1989. In 1979, the graduates of the MBA program were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” It turned out that only 3 percent of the graduates had written goals and plans. Thirteen percent had goals, but not in writing. Fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all.
Ten years later, in 1989, the researchers found that:
13 percent who had goals that were not in writing were earning twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no goals at all.
3 percent of graduates who had clear, written goals when they left Harvard were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of graduates all together.
The only difference between the groups was the clarity of the goals they had for themselves when they graduated.
How do I write a goal?
Each goal must pass the S.M.A.R.T. test. It must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results oriented, and defined by a Time-frame. For example, a financial goal will include:
3 Year Goal
Increase sales to $3MM by year end 2013
Increase sales to $1MM by year end 2010
Quarterly goal (2Q/10)
How many goals should my company have?
Four, or five, goals are optimum. The obvious one, Financials, is developed for sales dollars and Profit. Others may include a Safety (zero incidents or accidents in 2010, Team (Hire one new sales representative by 3rd quarter, 2010. And since the business owner has a life (or perhaps not!) a Personal goal should be included. This ensures the business is aligned with his personal needs.
Once you write a goal, go back and make sure it’s S.MART. Now comes the fun part – assigning action items, however small they may seem, to each goal with the “who does it” and the “By when” defined.
The key to success is to hold your team and, most important, yourself accountable to meeting the goals.