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20 Jun

Take shorter aim when things are changing quickly

Datum: 2017-06-20 18:00

Many years ago I was at an ori­en­teer­ing-camp and we did an exer­cise one morn­ing that was more dif­fi­cult than I had antic­i­pat­ed, and which was quite thought-pro­vok­ing. From the start­ing point on a hill in the mid­dle of the for­est we iden­ti­fied a bear­ing on a map to a spe­cif­ic point approx­i­mate­ly a kilo­me­ter ahead. Between our cur­rent loca­tion and the intend­ed end­ing-point, the veg­e­ta­tion was thick and the ter­rain quite hilly. We were then asked to hand in our maps and com­pass­es. Turned out that the task was to get to the des­ti­na­tion emp­ty-hand­ed, and who­ev­er got clos­est to it won.

A small devi­a­tion from the course now will have con­se­quences later
This might sound sim­ple, but when the road ahead of me was full of obsta­cles to get around, over and even under, which for a moment made me devi­ate ever so slight­ly from the course I had set, it was easy to lose sense of where I believed the des­ti­na­tion point to be locat­ed. In order to keep myself mov­ing in the right direc­tion, I took aim at a tree some 50 meters ahead of me, then a rock beyond that, then a fun­ny twist­ed branch that I couldn’t miss, and so on.

A step at a time towards your destination
This to me is a direct and rather accu­rate anal­o­gy of how our busi­ness­es func­tion. We know (well, hope­ful­ly we do) where we are head­ing in the long-run and in order to move in that gen­er­al direc­tion, we take aim at small­er goals and accom­plish­ments, one after anoth­er. If we take steps that lead in oth­er direc­tions we will sim­ply find it hard­er to reach our intend­ed des­ti­na­tion. This is why the goals are what deter­mine what the best and right thing to do from one moment to the next is — why we use our goals when prioritizing.

When every­thing is chang­ing quickly
If the long-term goal (or vision”) remains the same over time it becomes eas­i­er to set the short-term goals than if the vision changes often. We then aim towards the same des­ti­na­tion through­out the entire ori­en­teer­ing-exer­cise. But if our busi­ness is rel­a­tive­ly young and if it is oper­at­ing in a sec­tor that con­stant­ly changes and devel­ops, or per­haps is being cre­at­ed at this very moment, our long-term vision and goal will change often since the envi­ron­ment in which we are oper­at­ing is shift­ing and we need to adapt to those changes. The point of des­ti­na­tion shifts while we are mov­ing towards it. The way we envi­sioned the future just a lit­tle while ago is no longer rel­e­vant, and some­thing just hap­pened that alters our whole per­cep­tion of our busi­ness and our sit­u­a­tion. It is dif­fi­cult to get an overview of the road ahead, which in our ori­en­teer­ing anal­o­gy would be equiv­a­lent of a dense and impen­e­tra­ble veg­e­ta­tion where it becomes dif­fi­cult to take aim at a suit­able tree some dis­tance ahead.

One might even think that it is more or less impos­si­ble to set goals and deter­mine a vision to base your pri­or­i­ties on in these young, change­able busi­ness­es, but it is pos­si­ble — the goals just need to be small­er and defined more often. We need to deter­mine what the right path to take right now is more frequently.

Do this
If we were to set a goal today, how far into the future do you think it would be rel­e­vant? Of course you can­not know with cer­tain­ty, but if you were to make an esti­mat­ed guess, based on how fast your busi­ness and sec­tor is chang­ing? Is it a quar­ter of a year? A month? Per­haps just a few weeks? Reflect for a minute on the time-hori­zon that is rel­e­vant for the goals you have set and base your pri­or­i­ties on. Is the time-span short enough or do the goals become irrel­e­vant too soon and too often? Or do you sel­dom change your goal and might ben­e­fit from giv­ing your goals a longer time-frame so that you do not have to reeval­u­ate them so often?

If you need to set goals with short­er or longer time-frames, then do so, or bring it up with those that need to agree on the goals you set when you get a chance.

More rel­e­vant more of the time
If you adapt the time-hori­zon of your goals by your busi­ness and the envi­ron­ment or sec­tor it is oper­at­ing in, you will find them help­ful for the full dura­tion of the time it takes to reach the goal. You will take them seri­ous­ly more of the time since they are rel­e­vant when they need to be. Instead of hav­ing goals just because you are sup­posed to”, they will tru­ly aid you in your every­day work and you will real­ize the val­ue of delib­er­ate­ly set­ting goals.

What is your way?
What is the dura­tion” of the goals you have set for your­self and your busi­ness, and what was the rea­son­ing behind defin­ing these par­tic­u­lar goals? Feel free to share your rea­son­ing in a comment.