I’ve read various estimates about how long it takes to develop a new vaccine. Ten years seems to be about the average although it took twenty years in some cases and of course there are still many diseases in the world for which no vaccine exists.

Which makes it all the more impressive how various organisations and collaborations have got vaccines in place which are ready to be rolled out in less than a year.

It’s amazing what having a compelling goal can achieve especially I guess if it’s saving the future of mankind!

First, we had the news about the Pfizer vaccine although I imagine that saving as many middle-aged men as possible also benefits the sales of the other product that they are famous for! Then it was Moderna and this week the Oxford University / Astra Zeneca vaccine which might be the most exciting of all as it can be stored at fridge temperatures and therefore distributed much easier.

Finally, we had the Russian Sputnik vaccine which claims to have 91% effectiveness although with the Russians also claiming that the Oxford vaccine will turn you into a monkey, perhaps we should view all claims coming out of Moscow with a degree of cynicism.

Like all the amazing scientists who have worked tirelessly to get these vaccines ready, I imagine that your goals since March have been significantly different than they were this time last year.

In some ways, scientists have become like top sportspeople in 2020 with (as Roger Black puts it in the latest Mind-Setting video), the “luxury” of having very clear goals. The biggest challenge is to avoid getting distracted.

Back in March, many of you had a compelling goal which was survival! We certainly had a few high energy days that flew past in what felt like seconds.

But now we are in Pandemic Normal and are facing up to a challenging few years as outlined in The Chancellor’s speech on Wednesday, how do you create compelling goals to help focus yourself and your team?

Unless your aim is to sell the business and retire, you will need to have a continuous strategy of adapting goals and creating new ones.

One company whose entire success was built on that strategy was Google. Rather than being the first to the market and establishing market dominance, Google was actually the 18th different search engine to start. They had to catch up before they could pull ahead.

But the secret to their success was (and still is) a company-wide focus on a handful of priorities at any one time. Every 13 weeks, the company evaluates its progress against those priorities and then adapts those priorities for the next 13 weeks.

That sort of rolling strategy is similar to the one set out in the 60:30:10 rule of growth, for businesses who want to experience continuous growth at the fastest rate.

But growth need not just be in terms of turnover. Growth may mean your progress towards personal goals. For you, growth may mean maintaining your income levels whilst reducing the amount of work you do. Growth may be milking the cash cow your business has become and concentrating on growing your investments. Growth means different things to different people.

Of course, the actions you need to undertake to achieve whatever your goals are, are classic “important but not urgent” activities. They are the sort of things you know you need to do after reading one of those books I’ve been recommending in my Friday night emails. Or when you’ve been to an industry conference (make that webinar in 2020) and have a hatful of ideas.

But external factors get in the way. And then the day passes with you having spent the majority of it on “urgent but not important” activities instead. External factors can easily steer you off course.

But that of course is why the goals must be compelling. So that even if the day to day actions change, the dream stays the same and you never lose your desire to get back to whatever is the most “important but not urgent” activity that will make the biggest impact in achieving those goals.

The dream should be what gets you up in the morning and drives you to kick on when boredom or tiredness set in.

Add in a few performance measurement tools (accurate and relevant management accounts, customer surveys, measurement of Key Performance Indicators) and you should be able to identify the right actions to focus on now that will take you another step closer to whatever your dream outcome might be.

And if you’re not sure what those actions might be, well you could always book up a strategic planning day with one of our Principal Advisers or sign up for the BackleyBlack Mind-Setting programme.

Or you can lose focus and drift from one day to the next. It’s your choice I guess. Just remember that even if the Oxford virus won’t make a monkey out of you, not having compelling goals might.

Have a good weekend.

Compelling goals

Interview with Steve Backley and Roger Black 

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Malcolm Palmer


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