"We Choose to Go to the Moon "¦ "
by Loren Skaggs, CEO
We are approaching the fortieth anniversary of one of mankind's greatest achievements: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's walk on the moon. Not only was it a great achievement scientifically and technologically, but it was also a great achievement in political will. In the face of an up-and-down economy, a war abroad, and unrest at home, we managed the successful realization of an incredibly ambitious undertaking.
(Incidentally, I would be remiss if I didn't include a shout-out to our client, Spacelabs Healthcare, who had a hand in getting them up there.)
The lesson of Apollo 11 also offers a lesson to those of us in the business of business. One thing I am always advising my clients is the importance of setting goals. Any project will only be as successful as the quality of the stated goal.
For instance, when asked for a goal, clients often tell us that they "need a new website." Well, this, quite simply, is not a goal. Nobody "needs" a new website. What they need are the things that they hope to get out of the new website. And the better they are able to define what those things are, the better results they will get from the project.
That brings me back to the U.S. space program. Remember that the moonshot began with a speech by John F. Kennedy. Here is what he said:
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."
Now, that's what I call goal-setting.
Note that this brief statement has virtually all of the components of a well stated business goal:
- It is specific (The moon is a pretty specific point in space)
- It is measurable (did a man land on the moon and return safely to earth? Yes? Then, Mission Accomplished)
- It is Time-bound ("before the decade is out")
This well defined goal statement drove the way the mission was carried out. Could they have built a fancier rocket, sent more people, or spent more time on the moon? Sure, but they had to get this done before the decade was out. Better to go small and quick. But at the same time, they couldn't cut too many corners, because they had to make sure that the astronauts were returned safely.
The same goes for goal-setting in business. Sure, you might want a new website, and you probably even need one -- but why?
You actual goal may be to improve sales by reducing the effort it currently takes for a customer to get through your checkout process.
So, your stated goal might be "To improve sales by creating a new website that reduces the amount of click-through required to complete a transaction."
An even better goal would include more specific details, if you can muster them up (increase sales by how much? How many clicks is a transaction taking now? What do you want to reduce them to? How long should the project take? How much should it cost?)
Finally, make sure your goal means something. Remember that Kennedy made his speech smack in the middle of a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and Russian spacecraft were already flying over our heads. It was important for the U.S. to demonstrate some area of superiority in space, both from a military standpoint and from the perspective of public perception.
So, what are you trying to achieve?
Jul 10, 2009
We Choose to Go to the Moon
"We Choose to Go to the Moon "¦ "