FOR my professional and spiritual development, I listen to a number of podcasts.  One of those is Get-It-Done Guy, presented by Stever Robbins.  A recent episode entitled How to set unplannable goals addressed situations where the normal goal-setting doesn’t work.

This idea strikes me as similar to what we’re talking about with creating a business which is values-oriented.

Normally, setting goals wouldn’t be terribly hard to do.  You look at the competition, decide where you want to be relative to them, and set a goal accordingly.  Then you put plans in place which will support reaching that goal.

Imagine that your market is growing at 5% a year.  To stay ahead of the competition, you’ll have to do better than that, so you pick 7% growth.  Yeah, I know it’s a bit more complicated than that – but at least you have a starting point.

Instead, let’s imagine that you have a value to enhance the customer’s lives in everything you do.  The big problem is that this is never perfectly achievable, and you know it.  So if you have a goal to achieve absolutely 100%, you’ll never be able to hit the mark.  It’s good for you to be dissatisfied with this imperfection, but you don’t want it to be a demotivating factor for your company.

Stever offers a great alternative for attacking these values-based goals:

  1. Articulate that state of perfection that you’re shooting for;
  2. Take some action you believe is in the right direction; and
  3. Monitor your progress and adjust as you learn.

With our example of enhancing customers’ lives, this might look like:

  1. We will never be satisfied unless we are constantly looking for new ways to uphold, nurture, and meet the unstated physical and spiritual goals of our customers.
  2. This month, our top priority is to create deeper conversations with our customers, bring that information back, and develop some new approaches we can put in place.  We will also continue the effort we’ve had for the last few months to contact EVERY customer within two weeks of their purchase, to get honest feedback on their experience and how we can help them in the future.
  3. As a result of the data we gathered last quarter, we are also changing our customer satisfaction survey to incorporate more sensitivity to their (hard-to-articulate) spiritual needs.

The point to this kind of planning is to keep making progress toward your ultimate goal, even if you know you’ll never be able to reach perfection.  It’s about the act of following your star, and keeping your employees aligned and energized.