The ability to define clear goals helps cut through this complexity. Recent research from Bersin by Deloitte states that organizations with a high level of goal clarity are four times (4x) more likely to have strong business outcomes. Regardless of industry, size, location, growth stage: One thing is certain: goal-setting matters! And while goal-setting matters, the importance of goals management goes way beyond OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).

The ability to set goals and manage them is an essential tool for managing change. Today, organizations in every industry are subject to change at an unprecedented pace. Externally, change is driven by many factors your organizations can’t control, such as technology, competitors, regulations, and other market forces. Internally, change is driven by innovation, growth, employee demographics, and other dynamics.

Change requires effective and timely adjustments in priorities – and priorities that people can easily adjust to. Well-defined goals will clarify what needs to be done, when, and by whom. Organizations that don’t use or consistently use a goals management system for defining, agreeing on, communicating, and managing goals such as the Six Disciplines Goals Management Services are at a severe disadvantage compared to those that have this capability.

The ability to define what needs to be done – and then managing it so it gets done – is a skill EVERY individual should have – not just top leadership. The scope and time horizons of each individual’s responsibility will vary by job level, but the necessity to adjust priorities to changing circumstances, and to separate the important from the urgent is everyone’s job – every single day.

Effective goal-setting is a unique human trait for envisioning a desired future and agreeing to work toward that future outcome. Without clear communication about purpose and results (or what some refer to as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), and organization’s culture can break down to an environment breeding with unproductive firefighting and finger-pointing.

“OKR” is a term that originally described a specific approach to defining a goal. It was coined at Intel years ago, and it encourages the discipline of separating a qualitative statement of objective, such as “Great Launch of our Product Line X ,” from a clear statement of “key results” for that objective, for example, “1,000 new customer within 90 days of launch” or “X social media hits by XX/XX/XX.” We generically refer to this process as goal-setting to avoid introducing terminology that varies from organization to organization. Whether you use the term OKRs or some other term, such as goals, objectives, outcomes, or KPIs, in the end, clarity and alignment requires a clear indication of the results of any goal.

While it would be ideal if goal-setting was as easy as starting at the top, breaking goals down to smaller chunks, where individuals assumed responsibility and executed activities to make things happen – we know that’s not realistic. In all organizations, the majority of work is cross-functional. In fact, most things that customers value are a result of cross-functional collaboration. The ability to define goals using a common language and approach greatly reduces the friction involved in building collaboration, not only within a team or department, but especially among large cross-functional projects, committees, or process teams. In addition, clarity in goal-setting and goals management helps bridge the communication gaps that occur vertically in an organization. The bottom line? Without clarity in goal-setting and goals management, organizational complexity overwhelms communication effectiveness.

A proven approach for making your organization more responsive and receptive to change is to introduce an organization-wide framework for reviewing, revising, and tracking goals. This framework builds an organizational rhythm that fosters regular communication and creates accountability for knowing the status of goals and what needs to be done next. The Six Disciplines program is built on the principle embodied by President Dwight Eisenhower who said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” In other words, the value of producing a plan is the understanding produced by the collaboration required to produce the plan. The plan itself is usually out-of-date by the time it’s produced. The Six Disciplines program is deeply rooted in creating a culture of communication, collaboration, and teamwork by regularly reviewing and revising plans. Not for the purpose of producing more plans, but to increase understanding and agile response to changing conditions.

Much more important than the use of goal tracking software is the expertise required to define clear goals and to understand how to manage those goals in a team-driven environment. Frontline managers need to develop appropriate performance coaching skills to help their team members set clear objectives and work together to complete them.

Six Disciplines software support mobile goal-tracking with leadership development and execution management processes that help your team managers be more effective. Six Disciplines is unique in managing the goal-setting process because it is an excellence program that supplements goals setting with a strategy execution methodology, professional on-site coaching, and integrated leadership development. All these capabilities will not be needed upfront, but the fact that they are available when you need them and designed to integrate seamlessly with goal management will save you time and money in the future.