A longstanding credo for successful business planning is make specific goals. However, there is such a thing as being overly specific in your goals to the detriment of other things that matter to you. Let’s look at how adding fuzziness to specific goals can make your business planning strategies more fulfilling.
Analytics vs. Eye Test
In the world of sports, there’s often great debate between the value of analytics versus the eye test. Analytics often provide hard, quantitative evidence of performance, while the eye test relies on intuitive, qualitative evidence about performance.
Business planning is similar. For example, the analytics might tell you to send your top salesperson to close an important deal because she has good closing numbers. But the eye test—your raw observations and intuition—might tell you to send a junior salesperson because she has demonstrated a special rapport with the customer’s decision makers.
Focusing solely on either analytics or the eye test can lead to unintended consequences.
Consequences of Being Too Specific or Fuzzy
Say you have specific goals that include selling your business to a third party within five years for $50 million. You do everything you can to achieve it, only to find that you had to lay off most of your workforce, including your business-active children. Doing something like this could damage your legacy or worse, leave you very wealthy but very lonely.
Similarly, if you only focus on the eye test, you may create goals that are too fuzzy to achieve. For example, you may personally like and have faith in an executive you hired soon after starting your business because she has great raw talent. But as years pass, that executive doesn’t develop that talent into a systematic and repeatable method for success. Having blind faith that that executive will improve can make it much more difficult to achieve your specific goals.
In short, focusing only on one kind of goal over another can lead to dissatisfaction, disappointment, and a business plan that doesn’t do what you want it to.
Resolving the Differences
The key is to marry your specific goals with an element of fuzziness. For example, it’s wise to have a specific timeline for achieving goals to avoid 11th-hour rushes. But equally important is considering how you achieve those goals with the people and processes that make your business run.
One way to begin this process is to ask two important questions.
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