The Audacious Goal

There’s been plenty of chatterati blather in England this past month about ‘targets’.

Only Germany, it seems, had significant existing infrastructure in place for lab testing. Different countries around Europe over time develop their own scientific specialties it seems. Perfectly understandable when you consider the Continent for a number – yet critically and sadly far from all – of sectors has a ‘single market’ ambition.

Britain for instance shines in other areas. Just look at the strides her esteemed vaccine competence already shows.

A classic example of ‘industrial inertia’. Where skills in specific areas cluster in certain locations. In my youth, one big case concerned Sheffield Steel. Where the town once became the global epicentre of that industry. Nowadays the whole ‘silicon’ labelling is another specimen. From the original Valley (San Francisco) to a variety of bandwagonning including Glen (Scotland), Cape (S Africa) and my personal favourite near where I once plied my ambitions, Roundabout (London).

So while the Germans were able to quickly get to a million monthly novel-virus antigen tests (finding those infected), without facilities in place the Brits languished at sub-ten thousand daily test rates.

Nothing seemed to be increasing these figures. So the Minister in charge set what he called “an audacious goal”.

At that time, his target was 25,000 a day. Achieving not even two-fifths, he went for a big one. The new target by the end of the next month was to be 100,000 a day.

Despite the inexcusable sniping from the tax-funded self-appointed national protestor broadcaster, the target was met. As Professor John Newton remarked in the face of those who’s enemy is the incumbent government, when most people’s enemy is rather the coronavirus;

‘”We don’t want to get too hung up on the targets… what matters is we have got substantial capacity.

It’s a big number however you count it. All the tests are only counted once, and you can count tests when they go out, or when they come back in. Whichever way you do it we still beat the target.”

The voice of reason. What’s more, I managed to hear normally scathing politicians echo the above’s first line. And admit that what such challenging target did was galvanise a failing system. The supertanker was not only turned around super-quickly, but underwent turbo-charged organisational change.

In the current covid case, setting a big ambitious target got all the players going. Freshly focused on doing something not done before. To give just one example, from scratch a trio of ‘mega’ processing facilities emerged in only three weeks, known as Lighthouse Labs.

What the huge number did was drive motivation in a very short period of time.

So what can solution selling environments take from what at the outset appears such an impossible number?

I have seen with my own eyes the debilitating effect of an arbitrary target announced which all concerned judge pure fantasy.

Our deal cycles may well stretch too long. After all, if you typically follow three-month campaigns your options are limited in the final month of the year. But you can affect components. The age-old favourite being filling the hopper.

That is, putting many more prospects into the mouth of your funnel. Which should mean many more closing out the spout a little later.

There’s also the possibility of applying a defined process element to this treatment. This takes some planning. Yet if there is one activity that helps make your success (way) more likely which management feel wastefully overlooked, you can recalibrate aim to ensure its greater prominence.

Targets should ‘galvanise’. Whereas there’s all sorts of psychological mumblings that they don’t really work, maybe keeping an audacious one akin to this – a kind of secondary stretch goal on steroids – up your sleeve could well award handsome dividends.

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