Harvey Mackay: Learn to balance goals and objectives
BY HARVEY MACKAY United Feature Syndicate
Sunday, June 24, 2012
6/24/12 at 2:44 AM
OK, all you golfers - ever played a skins game? In simple terms: Players during a round of golf wager on the best score for a single hole. If there's a tie, the "pot" rolls over to the next hole.
One result of a skins game can be to up the ante on each hole. The backlash is taking your eyes off the long haul. In a skins game, you play for short-term stakes. As a result, strategy goes out the window.
Unfortunately, some people run their businesses that way. They muddle along in a never-ending skins game. This doesn't happen just in tiny companies. An insider at a famous blue-chip giant once quipped: "Our idea of long-term planning here is deciding what we'll do after lunch."
Anyone who has participated in a skins game on a golf course knows the painstaking attention paid to the line of every putt. It's a lot like what Peter Drucker describes as "the last of the deadly sins" of business, which he defines as "feeding problems and starving opportunities."
Drucker has long been considered the definitive authority on business planning. His principles are still widely used decades after his revolutionary writing on the concept of "management by objectives."
Planning boils down to two fundamental processes: goals and objectives. It is important to distinguish between the two. Goals are considered the purely quantitative and mostly financial targets. Objectives are more qualitative and elusive.
Make your goals, and you stay in business. Advance your objectives, and you build a business worth having. The distinction between goals and objectives is hardly pure. Often objectives have quantitative measures attached to them as well, but they are rarely just numerical yardsticks.
At the age of 85, Drucker wrote "Managing in a Time of Great Change." A key premise: "Uncertainty - in the economy, society, politics - has become so great as to render futile, if not counterproductive, the kind of planning most companies still practice: forecasting based on probabilities."
Translation: Things no longer rest on a predictable base. How would I describe this sort of uncertainty? We live in a world where: "Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes." And, "Artificial intelligence usually beats real stupidity."
Companies spend days, if not weeks, agonizing over their mission statements and business plans. How much precious, misspent time goes into the process? Get the business model right, and then accessorize it with the details. You may not need more than a few action plans focused on very restricted areas.
In real estate, it's location, location, location. In management, it's preparation, preparation, preparation. But, be very, very careful. It's not the sheer magnitude of the preparation that matters. It's the relevance of what you do. Is it clear? Will it change behavior? Does it sizzle?
Mackay's Moral: You'll never reach your goal if you don't have one.
Original Print Headline: Save attention for long-term goals
Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller"Swim With the Sharks WithoutBeing Eaten Alive." To send him a question or comment, go to tulsaworld.com/mackayfeedback.