graphI’ve been putting together a workshop at the local SBDC next week about incorporating mission and values into your business.  There’s a breakthrough concept that can be applied here which changes how you achieve your goals.

In business, we have assumptions that:

  • If it can’t be measured, it won’t get done.
  • Everything has to be measured in numbers, preferably with a dollar sign in front.

When I state it this bluntly, you can see where the fallacy is.  Can you imagine measuring your personal happiness this way?

Not that people haven’t tried.  I’ve seen calculations which attempt to capture the “cost” of sleeping 8 hours a day, or the “value” of taking a vacation to the Bahamas.  Even to turn those into dollar figures.

I’m not convinced.  At the end of the day, I need my sleep because it makes me happy.  And I need relationships because I believe that’s part of what makes me human.

So why do we have to turn everything into numbers in business?

Here’s the deceptively simple concept which helps break out of this thinking: Balanced Goals.  Let’s look at an example of a company that wants to combine financial sustainability with supporting the environment and changing society:

balanced goals

I listed a few example goals in each of the three areas, but obviously the company needs to define exactly what those mean.  We can’t just leave it at “make some charitable contributions” – that means little, and will be the first thing sacrificed when times get tough.

Instead, we need to get very specific and measurable.  Community involvement might include devoting a certain number of staff hours to a particular cause.  Or application of influence to help an organization meet its goals. Or helping that group to be more successful by donating some of our services.

When we do this, we’ve transformed the way we think.  And dramatically increased the chances that we’ll achieve our goals.

I said it was deceptively simple, right?