How to set goals and achieve them using tactics

by ltconsulting on February 14, 2012

One of the key challenges with setting goals is the need to set “our goals” – goals that reflect our true values. Only when we are following a path that conforms to our true values – personally or collectively – can we be at our most effective.

However, many of us have yet to fully explore our true values, which should be the first exercise in any campaign: what do we really need to achieve?

This requires us to write our own personal charter – a founding document or mission statement that, like a political manifesto, sets out what we stand for. Our charter is important because, from here, we can indulge ourselves in the second major goal-setting exercise: Visualisation. We should pick a distant timeline and imagine ourselves at that point. This can work for teams as much as individuals, although each member needs to be fully onboard with the future goal.

We need to write all of our goals down using positive language. Positive language is easier to visualise and much easier to communicate to others. With our true goals set we now have a strong path ahead, giving us focus and good judgement Yet we now need to execute our goals, and this requires a strategy. Many people struggle with the concept of a strategy, mixing it up with either objectives or tactics. In reality, it is no more than the bridge between the objectives and the tactics – making sure the individual tactics are co-ordinated and aimed at meeting the objectives.

Some thoughts on tactics:

  1. Tactics are mostly action points – contact this person, write this letter, make that phone call, get that meeting. But they can also be developmental: develop this skill, acquire that knowledge etc.
  2. Tactics can be tiny steps or giant leaps. Giant leaps are rare, however, and can often move you to the wrong place. In fact, where possible, giant leaps should be converted into a series of tiny steps that produce a series of small victories. Giant leaps based purely on bravado are pointless, potentially-wasteful and should be avoided.
  3. Don’t execute tactics on too many fronts. Concentrate energies in one place in order to gain small victories. And then move on
  4. Work out the cost (in every respect) of each tactic beforehand and be prepared to pay it. Balking at the cost halfway through is the quickest way to derail an entire campaign
  5. Don’t start a tactic without a clear idea of its outcome, and focus purely on that outcome – most alternative outcomes will, in reality, be setbacks
  6. But be flexible. You may have to change tactics quickly when outcomes do not go as planned.

Finally, remember to keep the objectives, the strategy and the tactics separate. If a tactic doesn’t work, abandon it but don’t change the strategy. Only after repeated tactical failures should the strategy be questioned. And only after repeated strategic failures should we reassess our objectives.

*This article was a reference from an original article in Training Zone

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