One of my favorite quotes is, “A Goal Without A Plan Is Just a Wish.” In my experience, most goal setting leaders fail to recognize this basic premise, that a goal is just a goal unless you have a plan to follow through towards accomplishing that goal.
Here is an example. Your bank CEO wants to increase earnings. There is no plan. The CEO communicates the goal, and states that he wants earnings to increase by 10% next quarter, and double by the end of the year. When asked “how” by a member of the middle management team, the CEO answers, “make more loans and bring in more deposits.”
At the end of the next quarter, earnings remained flat. At the end of the year, there was a nominal increase in earnings, no more than what you would expect from continuing status quo operations.
After both the quarter and year end numbers were released, the CEO angrily declared that “something needs to be done!” When asked what he suggests they do, he said, “do what I told you to do last year…make more loans.”
The bank had the right goal, but no plan to achieve that goal. Goal setting is a wonderful thing, and something even my young son does every day at school, but you need a plan. It needs to be conceived smartly and aimed at the specific goal, then fully vetted and analyzed prior to implementation to ensure it can succeed as desired.
Once the plan is ready, an organization must execute the plan as designed, and they must fully commit to the plan. The commitment starts at the top with the CEO, and all of the senior executives must be on board. The CEO must effectively communicate the plan and be willing to take questions so the employee base is on board and ready to roll. (They are the ultimate executors of any plan, after all). Finally, everyone needs to be focused on proper execution of the plan until the goal is achieved, and again, that starts with the CEO. Otherwise, a goal without a plan is just a wish.