“Our goal for next year is to have a goal.”
The national food cataloger had flown me to its planning meeting for next year’s program. As the company’s CEO called the meeting to order, I was concerned about making a good impression. Could I measure up to this high-level cataloger’s expectations?
I opened the meeting crisply: “Let’s start by discussing the basic goals and strategies you’ve used in the past.”
The CEO gave a slow, deep sigh and said, “We have no goals; we have no strategies.”
A little strategic thinking about your goals can put you ahead of your competitors. And now’s a good time to do it, when you’re starting to plan next year’s program.
As for the catalog executives in my example above, after pondering their choices of growth, profit or pure survival as a goal, they opted for survival. Continuing the status quo was their primary goal.
And indeed, “more of the same” is a legitimate business goal. Are your sales holding up? Are your competitors weak to nonexistent? Is no other cataloger copying you so closely as to blur your identity? If you answered “yes” to all three, then “the same as last year” is probably achievable this year.
The cataloger in my example thought his company merely lacked goals, because the actual goal wasn’t the kind that makes headlines (e.g., big growth or profits). After realizing the true goal was just being comfortable in a safe market, the cataloger put a bit more brand identity onto the pages, did a touch more testing and has been going on placidly ever since.
Even if your goal seems boring, it’s important to know what it is, so you can plan intelligently to achieve it.
“If you want to live, generate my report before midnight.”