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  • Writer's pictureLacy Starling

#143: "Grow" is not a Plan

I love strategic planning, but I hate most strategic plans. Or at least the long-term goals that come along with them.

My biggest issue with a lot of long-term goals that companies promote is that they aren’t actually targets to hit. They are vague platitudes. They are greeting-card slogans plastered on posters and hung in the lobby, next to the uncomfortable chairs and the stack of old magazines.

“NewCo is focused on growth!” “Amazeballs, Inc. will be a market leader!” “MegaCorporation strives to be an employer of choice!”

Okay, great. So what does that actually mean? What is growth? Revenue growth? Profit growth? Personal growth? (I’m guessing it’s not the last one.) Market leader of what? In what? What market? Employer of choice for whom? How is that measured?

Squishy goals make me insane. It’s like when someone I know and love (okay, me), says “I want to lose weight.” Alright, how much? By when? How’s that gonna happen? (Spoiler alert: it’s not.) Amorphous goals are good for one thing - covering your ass.

How can anyone say I’ve failed to lose weight, if I never tell them how much I want to lose or by when? I can just keep kicking the can down the road anytime someone asks me, saying that I’m still working on it.

The same thing happens in business. Often, we avoid specificity because with specificity comes accountability. If you clearly say you are going to X thing by Y time, it suddenly becomes a lot more real, and I think it can be scary to declare something, publicly (or quasi-publicly) and then know that people are going to ask you about whether you did it or not.


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