December 28, 2009 Tony Morgan

Stop Making Goals for the Future

I used to be a 5-year-plan type of guy. I was all about defining the vision and then establishing specific, measurable goals.

Now I think I’m more of a 5-day-plan type of guy. I still think organizations need to clarify their vision and their strategy, but I don’t necessarily think it’s helpful to define the 5-year goals.

Part of the reason why I don’t find long-term goals are helpful is that our environments are changing so rapidly. What we may perceive as success today, could look very different a few years from now. The goal may be too high or too low or we could be trying to reach a goal that has nothing to do with the long-term health and viability of our organization.

Additionally, I don’t think we sense the urgency today when we’re shooting for a goal 5 or 10 years from now. We delay the changes we need to make now. That’s probably because we fall in love what we’re doing now and think it’ll somehow produce different results in the future.

I do believe leaders instinctively have one eye on the future and the big picture as they’re making decisions today. I’m just in a place, though, where I think prioritizing our time and resources today is a much more valuable exercise than defining where we hope to end up 5 years from now.

And, rather than measuring where we are today against some goal in the future, I also think it’s wiser to measure current trends. We can hide behind future goals and forecasts, but getting honest about current trends forces us to reassess our strategy our structure and our team.

Instead of figuring out where we hope to be in five years, I think the more important questions are:

  • Do current trends suggest we’re moving in the right direction? If they aren’t, are you being honest about it or explaining away the numbers?
  • Do we have the right people in the right roles to help us move forward? I’d rather have the right people with the wrong strategy than the wrong people with the right strategy.
  • Are we focusing our time and resources on the right priorities? Honestly, I think most organizations can only handle one new project or initiative at any given time. Healthy organizations get everyone on the team pulling in the same direction to see that initiative through to success.

How about you? Are you still making long-term plans to clarify your personal or organizational vision? Or, have you landed in a similar place as me?

As we end one decade and launch into a new one, I’m really curious to hear how you’re approaching the future.

Do I need to stop what I’m doing and develop my “Vision 2020” goals?

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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