Setting Company Goals

· by Herb Dew

Herb is the CEO of HTI. He founded HTI in 1999 along with John Knight and David Sewell, and remains heavily involved in the organization today.
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I remember working on our business plans when HTI was much younger, when would take an honest look at what we did well, a substantial barrier to being even more successful was our struggle to set clear, attainable goals and FOCUS on them diligently all year. We made the classic mistake of listing 20 goals….or 15….or 30. And when we looked back over the year what did we have? About 20 goals still sitting there, partially worked on, but incomplete.

We were making two fundamental mistakes: we had too broad a set of goals, and we didn’t have the accountability set in place to insure we completed our tasks.

Accountability. Wow, that word sounds….well…foreboding. It sounds authoritative. I struggled early on with feeling like I was micromanaging my people. I had worked in an overly “measured” organization early in my career. So I had a healthy skepticism about the effectiveness of setting rigid goals and establishing metrics to meet those goals. One of my clients, the Robert Bosch Corporation, has influenced me tremendously in this area over the last few years. Bosch taught me the importance of deep diving into goals and problems, and how to use tools to narrow the amount of goals we set and to track our progress. One of my friends at that company, John Kuta, gave me a book that talked about identifying goals and then picking 2 to 3 that were “mission critical”. The idea was that it was far more important to set 2 to 3 mission-critical goals than it was to have a long list of goals that sounded well rounded.

I began changing how I viewed the business planning process for HTI and started focusing on 2 to 3 central goals….goals that were IMPERATIVE to our success. I focused on those and built accountability into the process.

Each year now, our goal setting surrounds a few central themes: profitability, innovation and employee morale. We set those deliberately. We obviously want to continue to grow, but we do not want to grow so quickly that we lose what makes us “us”. Constant innovation has been one of HTI’s trademarks. And being one the of the best places to work in SC has allowed us to attract, hire and keep some of the best people I have ever worked with.

Accountability. Goal setting. All companies struggle with this, but great companies recognize the importance of setting goals and measuring progress. It all starts with a business plan and an honest look at your company’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Once you have those identified, the changes and improvements your company needs to make become obvious.