Setting goals for growth is challenging. There’s a dilemma:

1) You can’t control everything. And striving after things you can’t control is a recipe for failure.
2) Setting objectives that you can control doesn’t grow you much, if at all.

The classic example of the first kind of goals are revenue goals. For example, “Grow our revenue by 10% by January 1.”

You can leap into action around this kind of goal, work everyone to the bone, and still fail. This is what happens most often because you’re not in control of how the environment will respond to your efforts.

The classic example of the second kind of goal is a process oriented goal. E.g. “Market at x tradeshows in 2022.”

Unlike the first kind, these kinds of goals are achievable. Only achieving them doesn’t always lead to growth. This is because they’re simply an extension or replication of what you can already do.

The solution to this dilemma is to set goals that you can control on growth itself.

There’s an important distinction here: we talk about things like revenue growth as growth, but they’re not actually- they’re outcomes of growth.

Growth is simply an expansion in capability or capacity.

For example, revenue growth could be a result of expanding your business capability or capacity:

  • In sales. Improving the skill of your sales people, hiring a sales manager, developing a sales strategy.
  • In marketing. Developing a new channel, a better understanding of the market, or a more sophisticated system to reach people.
  • In operations. Fixing systems, removing bottlenecks, replacing bad fit employees.

The big question is:

What changes in your business would expand your capability or capacity in a way that matters?

Featured image is a scene from the Triumphs of Caesar by Andrea Mantegna (1482–94) showing the captured armor of enemies in a Roman triumph- the victory parade following a successful military campaign. Used under public domain.