Be prepared for setbacks and have a clear road map using goals maps

Want to know the secret weapon used by the most successful organizations and the people working in them? Goal paths. The idea of a goal path is to establish the how around achieving a goal. Too much time can be wasted on brainstorming and even defining measures of success because without a plan no goal can become reality.

What Will Happen First

Define what has to happen to start your business down its new path. For instance, if your organization has the top line goal of increasing revenue 10% in a 3% growth industry, what are the very first steps you need to take to achieve success? It is unlikely to be a sales and marketing blitz and more likely to be an engine tune up. Do your existing operations have the slack to grow? If not, it could mean that the first step is building out a larger or more capable team. Are your processes scalable? If not, it means that a process engineering project might be the first logical step.

What Are the Likely Distractions and How Will You Mitigate Them

Any change in approach will require you to work on minimizing old distractions. For instance, if the next step is creating a world class team, that’s where the majority of your time needs to be spent and you should have a plan for how to best triage other business problems that you normally tackle headfirst.

Define Success

Just like you know the success measures for your goals ahead of time, you should have success measures for the process. This will make sure you’re on the right track and not wasting time on activities that will not end up driving value. Sticking with the example above, this might look like “Have 3 potential candidate to support the new strategy within 30 days”. Just because this is not your headline goal doesn’t mean you should abandon SMART principles.

What is Necessary to Achieve that Success Measure

You have identified what steps are needed to move towards your goal, planned for handling known distractions, and defined success. The next step is to start moving pieces into place to achieve the newly defined success measure(s). This might look like attending networking events, or reaching out to headhunters and trusted colleagues to turn your network into those three new candidates mentioned above. If you’re used to staying in the office all night tackling an issue this could be a departure from the norm and require advanced planning to execute well.

What Will Happen Next

This is not what will happen first on the path to achieving your goal, but literally what will happen next. Who are you going to set up appointments with once you’ve wrapped up the goal path? What events will you attend?When are they? Where are they? What people in your rolodex will get emails? Calls? Be as granular as possible and write it down so you can reference it later.