Member John Maydonovitch Speaks: Inspire with Breakthrough Objectives and Stretch Goals

The Challenge:

The case at hand concerns a CEO who had prepared a very detailed business plan to guide his management team through the next fiscal year. The plan, which the CEO presented to his fellow ACE group members, set forth scores of objectives and actions with related criteria for success.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were you, I’d chuck the 100-page business plan and come up with one company-wide breakthrough objective – not the countless maintenance objectives that keep the doors open – but one clear goal that, if reached, would take your business to the next level. That is where your focus should be.

Your mind has an incredible knack for detail. However, that talent shouldn’t condemn you to bogging yourself down in minutia. This plan you’ve made is essentially a detailed project plan, and you’d need a project manager to keep track of it all. If I were you, I’d hone in on your strongest value to the business: inspiring your company to breakthrough to the next level. Do this by setting a singular breakthrough objective for the company, something to strive for on an organization level. Then huddle with your department heads and translate that inspirational goal into specific departmental breakthrough objectives.

Make it clear from outset that this breakthrough objective isn’t binding. There are no penalties for not reaching it. But it’s something to strive for. A stretch goal. And when you ask your management team to imagine a year of – not 10% growth to keep up with the competitors – but 50% growth to blow the doors off a new market, then you engage another level of thinking. You inspire your team to think about transformational business. Don’t get bogged down in project management. Your true calling as CEO is to set the bar – and set it high.