In my last post I talked about goals and what a goal is. The better you understand something, the more value you are likely to derive from it. Earlier in my career, I did a lot of things because they were the norm. I didn’t have a deep understanding, nor did I see the point of gaining one. I guess my philosophy was ‘Just Do It’. It worked to a point, but I left a lot of value on the table.
One of the things I offer my clients is a deeper, more fundamental understanding of what leadership is. I do this for the reasons above, to help them become better leaders who generate more value. As we get into these conversations, new ideas and perspectives commonly surface. This was true of my conversation with Kevin Adler, founder and CEO of Miracle Messages. Kevin is an inspiring leader, leading breakthrough approaches to end relational poverty and homelessness.
We were discussing how to ensure organizations deliver on their promises and generate results. The topic of milestones came up and I described them as sub-goals, to help manage your progress towards achieving goals. This is a pretty simple definition. It is accurate, but it lacks that deeper understanding. What is the real purpose of milestones?
Rate of Improvement
Suddenly the answer appeared. Milestones define the rate of improvement or progress necessary to achieve your goal. It is not enough to do good work that generates results. Are you generating the necessary improvement in those results? To answer this question, you have to determine what rate of improvement is needed and this depends on your goal. Many goals are set arbitrability. For example achieve X by the end of the year. But why? When is the outcome needed and what rate of improvement does it drive? Is that reasonable and feasible?
These are important questions any leader must answer. Pulling goals out of our back pocket is no way to lead an organization. If you want to gain the commitment of your people, you will need to explain what your goal is, its timeline and the rate of improvement required. Those things had better make good sense to everyone else as well as you.