Your Three Step Guide to 2021

  • January 27, 2021
  • by Dustin Noble

In air navigation, it's called the 1 in 60 Rule, a well-known mantra stating that for each degree off in heading, an aircraft will be a mile off course after traveling sixty miles in that wrong direction. A single mile may not seem like a lot, but extrapolate the rule to a flight from New York to Los Angeles, and an error of a single degree would leave you forty miles off course searching for a place to land. 

In other words, if you want to arrive at your intended destination, you have to stay on course. For most of us, this is a no-brainer. We want success, and so we point our lives at those significant accomplishments. We long for that position or that project; we dream of making an impact and guiding our organization to the next level, and yet more times than not, we end up looking back on those goals wondering how we got so far away from the original intention. 


Here's the reality: just as a pilot has to check and recheck their heading, we need smaller goals within our dream to arrive at the proper finish line, and the same is true of your organization. 


Goal setting takes time, and honing in on the proper metrics can take even longer, but if you and your team can do so, this will be your most productive year ever in the areas that truly matter. 


"So what goals should we set?"


Well, here is where the leg work starts. While we can't tell you what your goals should be, here are a few questions we have found that help us set the right targets for our team: 

  • What is our "why?" - At the end of the day, every organization was founded on a single why. A single goal that drove someone or a group of people to put in the work to create something larger than themselves. Your organization may have been started to provide quality second-hand clothing to the people of your town, or you may have planted your church to bring the good news of Jesus to a specific neighborhood of your city; at Blackbaud, we work every day to powering social good through premiere technology. Whatever it was, this is your "why," and getting back to it is the first step in setting the proper goals for your year—setting a target outside of your why is the quickest way to find yourself off course. Establishing your company's "why" also helps your team ideate with forwarding momentum instead of sideways energy. They know their end goal and feel the freedom to think of creative solutions to help tackle any challenge that arises throughout the year. *secondary goals can be beneficial, as long as they ultimately point back to the central mission. 

  • What can we track? Look at the most successful organizations or the most accomplished individuals, and you are likely to find meticulous record keeping. In your space, although it may feel odd to keep track of specific numbers. Take a church, for example; it could seem odd to monitor the data on how many people tuned in for online service or newly professed faith in Jesus; but if the goal is to communicate the gospel and baptize people in His name, how can you know how effective your efforts were if not for the metrics above? Not every decision in your organization needs to be numbers-driven, but it does need to be numbers-informed if you want to hit the goals set at the start of the year. Speaking of...

  • What is our track record? - Charles Barkley was a 26.6% 3-Point shooter. He only ever shot better than 30% twice in his 15-year career. Now imagine you were building a team from the ground up with Barkley on it. Would you ever gameplan for him to shoot 40% from behind the arc? Of course not, but only because you had the data of what he had done in the past. We often set goals for ourselves and our teams without looking at what the numbers tell us. It's not wrong to set high targets, to aim for growth, but if you aren't doing so based on last year's numbers, you're likely to end up with an uninspired team on the low end or a burnt-out team if the goal is out of reach. To help your team see the path towards the larger goal, set up KPIs or Key Performance Indicators based on the previous year's benchmarks. For example, if you are running a podcast and last year, you improved downloads by 3600, set a goal of growing by 400 a month, and by doing so, increasing year over year by 1200. You will have improved listenership, and your team will have been able to track that accomplishment all year long. 


Goal setting isn't easy personally, and within an organization, it can be even trickier. As an exercise, ask your staff to set company-level goals for the year and see how close you are all aligned. You may be surprised at how well you've all stayed true to the "why," or you may find that it's time to revisit the core goal of your work. Taking the time to recenter your efforts, to track your accomplishments, and to use those metrics to set the next goals will result in an energized team with a clear purpose; one that is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on course and land the plane exactly where you meant to.