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In this busy, busy world, where our attention is being sought by multiple people and sources all the time, it’s often tough to focus on the important and not just the urgent – hence the wise words quoted by this entrepreneurial teenager, Jared Silver, that “Doing Things is Not the Same as Getting Things Done.”

Have you ever wondered why it is that you can recall some actions with crystal clarity and great detail, while other things – even recent ones, like your journey to work – you can barely recall at all?

It’s because your brain is trying to protect you from overload. Your RAS (Reticular Activating System) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that essentially decides what is important for you to process and filters out the rest. So, if somebody calls your name, even in a noisy environment, you’re likely to hear it, while routine stuff is filtered out. What you focus on is what’s let through, in effect, but recognise that your brain will stop you being able to focus on too much – no more than three things at a time seems to be the normal limit for our minds.

As the well-known author and leadership coach, David Allen, said, “You can do anything but not everything.”

So, how can you use this to your advantage in your business?

Simplistically, it’s about setting goals and reviewing these regularly. Start with your long-term goal, your BHAG, and then break this down into more manageable chunks which you then review and plan for – the most immediate on a daily basis.

So, for example, you have a 5-year BHAG to double your revenues and triple your profitability. These look like scary numbers, so how can you be sure to make this happen?

Start by looking at what you need to do each year to reach these goals – doubling your revenue in 5 years is a 15% annual compound growth, while trebling your bottom line means a 25% annual compound growth. Neither of these numbers, then is unimaginable. It might be that looking for 25% growth in bottom line in the first year is a bit optimistic, so perhaps reduce this to 20% – made up from a combination of revenue growth and modest cost savings – increasing it over the years ahead as economies of scale start to yield greater benefits.

Having put your annual goals in place to meet your BHAG, take those for the next 1 to 2 years and break them into quarterly goals. You want increased levels of granularity with the closer timeframes. You then take the quarterly goals for the next 2-4 quarters (depending on where your business is in the growth cycle) and break these into monthly goals, and then take the next 2-3 months and break them into weekly goals. And you then break weekly goals for the next couple of weeks into daily ones.

Although your BHAG is a big goal, simply stated, there are many component parts to achieving this and you will need to introduce these components into the greater levels of granularity. So, for example, there will be sales components (revenue and GP), administration components (cost management), marketing components (supporting the increased sale effort), and so on. Your division heads will be involved in setting these.

This will equally apply to the quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily goals – the greater the granularity, the more people will be involved in the goals. By the time you get to the daily goals, for example, each person in the business will probably have their top 3 goals to achieve that day, contributing to their weekly goal, which forms a part of that team’s monthly goal, and so on. And, of course, all goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) for them to be effective.

Underlying all of this would be your OKR framework system, which is used to review team and individual performance on an ongoing basis, normally monthly so you can adjust them where necessary.

The weekly and daily goals to achieve the monthly ones for each person should ideally be the responsibility of those people to set for themselves: after all, what they need to achieve that month on an individual basis is clear (whether revenue, expenditure, content creation, or whatever else their role contributes to the business). If you can have a daily/weekly goal setting and tracking system, so much the better – I’ve included some links to goal-setting system reviews at the end of this post.

Each person should review their top 3 goals for the day at the end of that day and revise their plans for the day ahead, bearing in mind their weekly goals. At the end of the week, they would review their overall performance for the week and plan for the week ahead, looking at their monthly and quarterly goals. And, if they’re not on track, determine what’s needed to get back on track (if it’s not something within their direct control, they need to escalate this). It all comes down to having a culture of accountability within the business.

Although they might find this difficult to do each day and week to start with, by sticking to it (prompting from a system will help!), it will quickly become a habit and they will recognise the benefits of the process.

Implementing a system like this so that everyone can get things done will ensure that your business can achieve its potential and that you can realise your goals for it, too.



Following a career spanning >50 years in the technology industry across three continents, with three decades in CxO roles leading significant, sustained growth in revenue and profitability, I now work with successful owner-led businesses to further enhance their growth, profitability and business value.

If you’d like to discuss your goals, company culture, board, business strategy, trends, goals, or anything else related to your business, book a confidential, free 30-minute call with me here.

I’d be delighted to talk with you.


And if you’d like to learn more, these related posts might be of interest:

You might also find these articles on goal-tracking tools to be of use:


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