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Goal Setting in the Digital Age

New year, new budget, new goals!

Individuals, teams, departments and companies set goals each year. It is interesting to see all the different posts on goal setting using the same tried and true methods that have had mixed success for years. As I did research on goal setting I found little evidence of process change for Goal Setting in the Digital Age!

Digital Goal Setting

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines goal setting as:

the process of deciding what you want to achieve or what you want someone else to achieve over a particular period


What is even more interesting is that below the definition is the sentence: Goal setting will only be successful if there is a collaborative approach between employee and manager.

Is there something wrong with this definition? Absolutely not, if you are living in a hierarchical organization. In the digital age we have much more matrixed organizations and goals are common. In the digital age we work in geographically distributed environments, often with global team mates, customers and/or suppliers. It seems that generations come faster with different goals and aspirations for work/life balance further complicating what it means to be successful with goal setting.

Defining Goal Setting Success in the Digital Age

Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

In competitive markets we want to win. You determine if you win by keeping score. Therefore a success goal equals hitting a target number. That number is inevitably higher than what we have achieved before. Under the definition above, the employee and manager sit down and come up with a target number and may even talk about what will be needed to achieve that goal. Too often this “collaboration” lacks creativity or transformative thinking. We will advertise more, blog more, do more or even try something new that is within, or even outside of, our scope of knowledge and expertise.

To achieve goal setting success in the digital age you must change the underlying process associated with goal setting to be more holistic. Consider a Digital Transformation as part of your goal setting process. A holistic approach including corporate strategy, technology, people and process. Change the nature of goals to the alignment of vision, mission, strategy, planning, process and tactics with clearly defined current and target metrics.

Achieving Organizational Alignment to Create Targets

In the small to mid-sized businesses, creating alignment is not rocket science! Strip away the politics and turf wars by first having that common vision and mission created or lead by the CEO or business owner. Communicate the vision and mission constantly and relate it to how you produce products and services to meet customer objectives. By placing the customer at the center or your strategy, it is easier to design processes and define metrics.

Forbes tech council identified Five Steps to Creating an Aligned Company.

  1. Regularly Remind Employees About Your Value Chain
  2. Structure Your Company to Support Allignment
  3. Promote Consistent and Predictable Company-Wide Operations
  4. Everyone Operates in Teams
  5. Teams Have Communication Networks

The hard part is living it every day. I have worked with numerous software companies who have consistently failed on step number two. Over past number of years software companies have strategically moved to the cloud and subscription billing. In almost all cases, the software company was slow changing their sales incentive plans to promote subscription over perpetual licensing. Subscription licenses have a lower initial cash payment. Subscription commissions that end after the initial year or subscription period result in lower total compensation compared to perpetual license sales. Individuals operate based upon how they are incented. Counterproductive policies create unnecessary friction and are doomed to fail!

The blogpost Compartmentalizing for Success explains how I-BN created alignment as a cloud service provider. Although we were nowhere near perfect, we implemented strategies based upon customer centric objectives. Team goals supported those objectives and were linked to individual development plans(IDP). IDPs were linked to our core values.

Align Your Company and Achieve Your Goals

Take the concepts of Digital Transformation, Company Alignment, Collaborative Teams and Effective Metrics together to achieve your goals. We recommend a defined business operating system. Whether it is EOS® or a custom methodology, a well defined and communicated system enables a framework and promotes deeper understanding for your company.

To learn more about how I-BN can help you compartmentalize for success with Business Transformation, book a CxO Explore or schedule an initial consultation on my Calendar. We are always eager to learn about and help businesses become more efficient and effective in the digital age.

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