Does goal setting work? And a second corollary question, does strategic planning work? I want you to think about this. We always talk about the importance of strategic planning, but first, I want to talk about goal setting.
There was a study done recently where they set up five different groups of people. The first group was just going to think about goals. The second group was actually going to write their goals down. The third group was going to write their goals down and then form in their minds some action commitments. The fourth group was going to write their goals down, form action commitments, and then send those action commitments to a supportive friend. And the fifth group was going to do all those other things but also send weekly progress reports to their supportive friends. Guess who achieved the most?
All of the groups that wrote down their goals outachieved the group that just thought about their goals by a significant margin. But of course, the group that actually performed the best and achieved the most was the ones that wrote down their goals, created an action plan, and sent weekly progress, proving that a weekly progress report is very important.
Along those lines, does strategic planning work? To me, strategic planning is how a team sets its goals. Not just for this year, but for the next five years or even longer.
We have found that the shops in our Bottom-Line Impact Groups outperform the industry in general in both sales and profits. But the people that go on and do strategic planning outperform even the other peer group members. They are far more successful than the industry in general.
Our Bottom-Line Impact Groups meet in person three times a year and in online meetings as a group three more times each year. That provides a good level of accountability, and that accountability is key because you never want to have to look your peers in the eyes and tell them that you have not succeeded on one of your commitments. But then, going on and doing that strategic planning with the team at your company produces additional enormous benefits. Getting everybody going in the same direction, having everybody subscribe to the same mission, vision, and values is so important. When you get everybody on your team pulling in the same direction, with the same plan in mind, and then every single week you check in on how that plan is performing, you’re going to do even better.
So, what are the key takeaways whether it’s goal setting or strategic planning? You need three things. The plan has to be written, there has to be accountability in the plan, and you have to check in every week, 52 weeks a year to make sure you’re on plan. And by doing those three things alone, you’ll see your performance in your business, the sales, profits, and most important, quality of life, all will change for the better.