Innovation Junkies Podcast

Three Critical Measures That Will Bring Your Vision to Fruition

“In this episode, the Jeffs talk about organizational targets and goals and how they relate to your mission, vision, and values. They discuss the foundation of sustainable, strategic growth, long-term targets vs. short-term goals and why they matter, and how to make your goals and targets measurable.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
Are you ready to change the trajectory of your business and see massive improvements? Each week, we’ll share strategies and practices to generate sustained results and long-lasting success in your organization. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. My name’s Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine:
Hey, and this is Jeff Amerine here. I’m pretty excited to talk about what we think about organizational targets and goals and how those kind of tie together with mission, vision, and core values. What do you think?

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. We talked about mission, vision, values in one of our previous episodes where we talked about how that is the cultural triad, if you will, that lays the foundation for sustainable strategic growth.
The very next step there is this thing called organizational targets and goals, what we like to call long-term targets to start with. Long-term targets are those things that are tied specifically to your vision statement. So, if you’ll remember, we said that the vision statement is this compelling statement of aspiration, three to five years out, that’s clear, crisp and has absolute clarity. So it’s a statement of aspiration, inspiration, and has a time bounding around it. So it’s that destination that we want to arrive within a three to five-year timeframe. We give you this three to five-year timeframe, but we have to decide, is it three, is it four, is it five? What’s the date at which we’re going to look at that vision and look at our performance against that vision and say, “Did we or did we not arrive?”
So a little bit of a review there on what that vision statement is. The long-term targets then become the actual three to five to a maximum of seven things that have to be accomplished simultaneously for that vision to become a reality. So if it’s a five-year vision, if that vision is 2027, December 31, 2027, here’s where we’re going to be at that time. Then what three to five to seven maximum things must we accomplish for that vision to become a reality?

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, and fewer really big, rock type of goals is better than 25 things that are not really long-term targets, they’re just kind of to-do list items. That’s really not what these are. These are intended to be strategic, important, and something that is going to help you based on the gravity of the initiative to achieve that vision.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. That’s right. They’re generally big work streams. In fact, when we work with our clients in helping them execute their strategic growth plan, we actually help them build work streams around those long-term targets. It’s not just something that gets assigned to Sally, and Sally can go knock it out in 32.5 days. It’s a big, usually an organizational initiative that actually has to occur or actually has to be carried to fruition in order for that vision to become a reality.
So it’s strategic objectives is what some people call them, what some organizations call them. We like to use the word long-term targets because first of all, and you’ve probably seen the same thing, seldom when someone has a list of strategic objectives are they strategic and seldom are they objective. They’re non-strategic subjectives many times. So that long-term target, it really tends to crystallize what we’re trying to get at because it connotes or sends the message or this image, if you will, of the archer who’s standing in front of a bullseye with the arrow drawn back in his bow shooting at the bullseye. Either he hits it or he doesn’t. That’s what we mean when we say a strategic objective. We call it that long-term target because you either hit it or you don’t.

Jeff Amerine:
Right. Sometimes if you think about on a three-year time horizon, it can be kind of overwhelming. So the next step that we’ll typically do once we establish those long-term targets is we’ll think about what can we do. There’s going to be more of these per each long-term target, what can we do to support that long-term target in the next 12 months? So how do we chunk that up in a way that we’ve got those short-term goals that are going to lead us to achieve the long-term target?

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. Effectively what we’re saying is if this is our long-term target and oh, by the way, it can’t be completed in the next 12 months because if it is, it’s not a long-term target. It’s a multi-year target that we have to accomplish. If this is our long-term target, then what do we have to do in the next 12 months? What do we have to accomplish in the next 12 months to get us at least 20% of the way there if it’s a five-year target, 25% of the way there if it’s a four-year timeframe or 33.33% of the way there, if it’s a three-year timeframe. So what do we have to do in the next 12 months to get us as far down the path as possible? That’s what our short-term goal is. So we have this list of long-term targets. Then we have this list of 12-month, which we call short-term goals, that are the things that we need to do over the course of the coming 12 months.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, that’s exactly it. Then the other thing that’s super important is: you do need to have a resource that is specifically responsible, a leadership person, for those short-term targets. Now, they can have a team, but it needs to be a person typically that’s in charge of it that will be accountable to delivering it so resourcing those short-term goals is really important if you want to actually make progress on it. Then the second thing is how are we going to measure whether or not we’re heading in the right direction and making progress? So why don’t you talk a little bit about key performance indicators.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. Before I do that, I want to mention another aspect though, is that execution planning is where a lot of organizations fall down with the execution of their strategic plan. You mentioned three-ring binders, and I know you and I used this mantra, “No three-ring binders allowed,” in our strategic growth plans, but what a lot of organizations do, whether it’s three-ring binder or not, is they go to the trouble to actually complete the strategic plan or strategic growth plan then they stick it on a shelf or stick it in a file drawer and they don’t have a cadence for reviewing progress against it on a regular basis.
Our clients are a little bit unique because we spend some time with them to actually help them craft an execution plan. What are the work streams? Who’s on point for those work streams? Who’s the leader of the work stream? Who are the members of that work stream? Then how are we going to measure them or what’s the cadence we’re going to put in place to actually review strategic progress toward those long-term targets, toward that vision on a regular basis? Usually that comes in the form of bi-monthly check-ins, maybe a quarterly strategy review where we bring all hands on deck, everyone that’s involved in the strategy execution. It might even be a regular update to the board where they have the opportunity to ask questions, but having this execution cadence wrapped around it.
Then of course you mentioned the key performance indicators. So key performance indicators, and I like to talk about the fact that having a profit and loss statement is critical to the success of managing any business or organization or an income statement or a statement of cash flows or a statement of income and expenses, whatever you call that statement for your particular organization, that’s critical. But even at its best, it is a rearview mirror view. In fact, most organizations don’t get their updated income statements for at least two weeks past the end of the month that just closed. Generally it’s 30 to 45 days depending on the size of the organization. Well, not only is it a rearview mirror, it’s a bad rearview mirror in those instances. It’s a foggy rear view mirror that you can barely see through. Not only has two weeks from the preceding month already passed, but it could be four weeks to six weeks that have already passed. So it gives you very little usefulness. It has very little usefulness, if you will, in making decisions in the here and now.
Key performance indicators, on the other hand, are that dashboard view. They are that fuel gauge, that tachometer, they are that oil pressure, oil temperature gauge, what have you. They are the things that allow you to assess those critical, vital few measures that fuel your economic engine and help you to stay on track between regular reporting periods.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, and so good a way to think about that. Sometimes it’s baffling to people and they don’t have a good framework. Sometimes things that came out of the 1980s aren’t all bad. The Balanced Scorecard approach that Kaplan and Norton use where they’ve got financial measures, KPIs, they’ve got internal process measures, which are really important, they’ll have customer facing measures and they’ll have talent or employee development measures. Those four buckets are really a pretty good framework to think about how can we come up with meaningful KPIs that are really measuring the stuff that we want to measure to show that we’re making progress against our short-term targets and ultimately against our long-term objectives, and then ultimately towards achieving our vision. It can all tie together very nicely in that regard.

Jeff Standridge:
Well, let’s just do that. Let’s just tie it together briefly for our listeners. Taking last week’s episode and tying it together with this week’s episode, we talked about the first thing that you do is you establish your mission or you discover your mission. That’s a clear and compelling reason why your organization exists. It’s the why.
Then you cast the vision for the organization, which is a specific destination at which you aspire to arrive with your organization in the next three to five years. You pick a timeframe, not just a timeframe, but you pick a date: the end of your fiscal year of this particular year. Then you identify your core values. Those are the behavioral compasses or the behavioral guardrails that govern how you’re going to treat each other, how you’re going to treat your key stakeholders, how you’re going to treat your fellow employees, how you’re going to treat your customers.
So mission, vision, values. That’s the triad that we talked about an episode or two ago where we talked about it’s the basis for building strategic attainment within the organization. Then you come back to that vision statement and you say, what three to five to seven things must we accomplish simultaneously in the same timeframe in order for that vision to become a reality? Those we call your long-term targets, sometimes called strategic objectives in many organizations. We call them long-term targets. Think archer with a bow and arrow.
Then we ask ourselves the question for each long-term target, what must we accomplish in the next 12 months to get us at least a portion of the way there? And that portion being whatever portion of the vision timeframe that we’re looking at. If it’s a five year vision, then we’ve got to get 20% of the way there at least within the next 12 months. Then finally, we look at our dashboard view. We identify those vital few, not the insignificant many, but the vital few key performance indicators that fuel the economic engine or that allow us to assess the fuel of the economic engine of the organization. Mission, vision, values, long-term targets, short-term goals, key performance indicators. Those are the components of a quality strategic growth plan.

Jeff Amerine:
We’re here to help you. If you want to go down that path-

Jeff Standridge:
There you go.

Jeff Amerine:
That’s kind of what we do.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. Thank you for joining.

Jeff Amerine:
See you next time.

Jeff Amerine (Outro):
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