Return to Targets


  • Global competition is now so intense that best practices soon become the norm, whereupon even better is needed, often quickly, if customers are to keep returning to you

  • The key, as the photographer Cecil Beaton once said, is: “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary”

  • Hence, winners set aspirational long term targets – dreams that just might become reality

  • Such dreams might aspire to be the leading, biggest, best or most valuable company – ‘to be number one or two in our chosen markets’

  • If you’re a small or medium sized company, you might find such targets to be fanciful, but why not aim for the stars?

    • The downside, as Peter Lynch of Fidelity once noted, is: “Long shots almost always miss the mark” and 99% of small companies with big ambitions fail

    • The upside, however, is that, by the law of large numbers, a few will always win and become the next Microsoft or GSK – and SMEs need guys with lofty ambitions plus bags of enthusiasm and drive not only to get them up and running but also grow them fast

  • If, on the other hand, you’re a large company and you’ve already had substantial success, dream targets may represent only one or two more steps up – they may not even be dreams any longer, more realistic goals with short-term deadlines

  • Overall, dream goals are: “What companies need to break out of a vicious cycle of competitive benchmarking, imitation and pursuit” according to W Chan Kim of INSEAD

  • You can’t copy others if you want to beat them – you have to aspire to be much better than them

  • Hence Asian car companies became the most efficient in the world – they had, and continue to have, aspirational targets such as ‘to take 30% of costs and more out of the system over the next two years’ – their mantra is ‘to get good, then better’

  • Jack Welch pushed for similar goals at GE: “We found that by reaching for what appeared to be the impossible, we often actually did the impossible; and even when we didn’t quite make it, we inevitably wound up doing much better than we would have done”

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.