Defining Mission Vision And Values For Annual Planning and Goal Setting

Dec 3, 2021 Learn the value of defining themes and values in annual planning and goal setting from ProCFO Partners

When most business leaders think “annual planning,” the mind jumps to conference rooms and white boards filled with numbers and projections. Important stuff, but incomplete for actually creating and achieving your goals. For that, you need vision to understand your values. What’s important to you as a leader? What’s important to your market?  What’s your company’s purpose for the market? In this article we’ll explore essential perspectives on rethinking goal setting and annual planning. When you understand and define a theme for your annual planning, you give your goals context and relevance that give new meaning to measurements and metrics.

What’s Your Goal, Really?

Here’s some stark truth: Not every business owner is an entrepreneur.

As we think of it, the entrepreneur is one who is solving a unique problem in the market, or in a business. They’re innovating, investigating, and initiating. This is different from the business owner, like for instance a franchise owner, who is following a blueprint already established. Somebody else – the entrepreneur, perhaps – has done the hard work of figuring out what the market needs and what to build as a result.

And, importantly, the world needs franchise owners! But the distinction is important in goal setting because leaders need to reassert their entrepreneurialism to establish their values. Why did you start this business? Or why do you run this particular business? If you think back to those early days of why, “raising revenues by 10%” was probably not your strongest driver. Yet for many businesses, that’s where goal setting now starts. We encourage you to consider your values – your reasons in the first place – as you set annual planning and goal setting.

Connecting Values to a Theme in Annual Planning and Goal Setting

We can make this more practical if we set our goals in context of a theme. For instance at ProCFO Partners, one of our themes in goal setting is Elevate. It’s an internal conversation – as long as we know what we mean, we can get everybody in the organization on board. And in our case, it’s an internal initiative. “Elevate” for us means doing things better. Intentionally looking for inefficiencies or opportunities to improve internally so we can ultimately have a better offering for our clients.

Jim McKelvey is a co-founder of Square, and in his book The Innovation Stack he shares the origin stories of Square. He was a glass blower, and some customers wanted to pay with American Express and he couldn’t accept because the process was convoluted and expensive. That’s it, that’s the backstory of a company that revolutionized payment systems, became ubiquitous for small business points of sale, and simplified what to that point was a complicated, difficult proposition in just accepting credit cards.

If we put a theme to this, it becomes more interesting. We’d say the theme for Square was Access. The driving motivator of the company, its founders and the decisions made were all about creating more access.

A theme can become a built-in arbiter for decision-making and key performance indicators. Does this thing we’re considering help us create more access? How? How will we know? This becomes a powerful focal point of goal-setting and planning. Instead of tossing out random numbers that you’ll forget about two quarters from now (and which, by the way, will put your employees to sleep as you try and get them excited and united around the goal), you can align purpose to a theme and values. Your financial goals – which are obviously still important – then become part of those conversations.

Failure is Part of Success

Once you’ve identified a theme that’s aligned to your values, then connected to measurable targets, it’s easy to think you’re building an ever larger enterprise. If we just lay the groundwork for success, the thinking goes, then the next phase will be to go bigger, higher, stronger, faster.

What’s just as likely is that as you build, stuff will break.

This can be part of your success story.

Instead of thinking “success leads to more success,” be prepared for success leads to failure. Which leads to innovation. Which leads to success.

This goes back to the values of the entrepreneur. That urge to resist a status quo, the adherence to a vision. Maybe you had some early investors who believed in your idea. Success! But as things got more sophisticated, your pitches started to fall flat. You heard no a few times and got familiar with failure. In response, the entrepreneur learns from those opportunities and recalibrates the message or the pitch or the ask. That’s innovation! In essence the “failure” just allowed you to eliminate what probably needed eliminating, or to create something that needed creating. The refinements were necessary, in other words, for the product to ultimately succeed. And now with your new, recalibrated pitch, investors went back to saying yes. Success!

It’s a small illustration of a larger point that can really be applied to any part of your goals and planning. When things don’t go as hoped, or as quickly, or if they just don’t go at all, that failure is your opportunity to focus and innovate. Shift gears. Introduce new products or refine messaging on old products. Tap into new markets or reconfigure services or products to existing markets. Whatever you do, innovate. You’re just undergoing necessary refinements. From there you’ll inevitably recognize some new successes – and the whole cycle repeats.

At ProCFO Partners we work closely with entrepreneurs and business leaders to help them align goals, strategies and planning to the concept of themes and values. It can be a new way of thinking, but it’s a powerful and effective way to invigorate your entire company to create the next. We’d love to explore your goals and strategies together. 


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