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Company Goal Setting: Two Kinds of Future

Company goal setting is about planning for an organisation’s future, but which future? As Peter Drucker pointed out: “we only know two things about the future:

  • It cannot be known
  • It will be different from what exists now and from what we expect.”

Drucker went on to state that there are two ways to look at the future:

  • The future that is already happening
  • The future you want to create

Company Goal Setting is the first in our series on Business Goal Setting : Using the “F-Plan”. It discusses Drucker’s “two ways to look at the future” and offers suggestions for making the most of both.

The F-plan series provides a structured process designed to help you improve your business planning and goal setting. Think about goal setting in terms of:

1 – Future: Company Goal Setting: Two Kinds of Future.
2 – Filter: Goal Setting in the Workplace: Filter to Make the Right Choices.
3 – Frame: Frame Your Goal Setting Plans.
4 – Focus: Goal Setting Strategies are Underpinned by Focus.
5 – Fast: Goal Setting Exercise – Are You Fast Enough?
6 – Faith: Goal Setting Facts Need Faith.

1. Company goal setting: the future that is already happening

To address the future that is already happening, you need to find and exploit the time delay between the appearance of a discontinuity between the economy and society, and its full impact. Drucker calls this “the anticipation of a future that has already happened.”

Changes in demographics are an example of a future that is already happening. We know there is a change in the birth rate long before infants grow up and impact on society as adults.

Another example is the web of the 90’s, where many organisations got the time delay between investment and profit wrong, resulting in the crash. Strategy is about the future, and therefore business goal setting must be forward looking. As Peter Drucker points out:

Consider your personal or business goals. Are there any areas where changes have already happened but the impact is yet to be felt?

2. Company goal setting: the future you want to create

Company Goal Setting

The second aspect is to imagine the future you want to create. Can you develop an idea that might give direction and shape to the future? In other words, can you make the future happen?

Perhaps you need to go with your imagination and your intuition, as well as any conventional business proposals. Market research may be useful in testing your ideas but in some respects it may not really tell you a lot. Henry Ford famously once said:

“If I had asked customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.”

The late Anita Roddick graphically made the same point:

“running a company on market research is like driving while looking in the rear view mirror.”

Why? Because it’s unlikely that people will realise they need or want a product or service, when it doesn’t yet exist.

So, create the future! Think about what you’d really like to be doing. Or in the words of another challenging Peter Drucker quotes:

“What in our economy, our society, or our state of knowledge would give our business its greatest opportunity, if only we could make it happen?”

A very good question to ask as you develop your company goal setting strategy.

Following our Happy Manager F-plan, to help get your goal setting into shape? Then your next step is to think about Goal Setting in the Workplacefilter to make the right choices.


Take action on your company goal setting!

Find our how in our e-guide: SMART Goals, SHARP Goals. The guide contains 30 pages and 5 tools to help you to set SMART goals, then take SHARP action to achieve them. It includes:

  • How do you define goal setting?
  • What features of goal setting are important, if we want to ensure they are more likely to be successfully achieved?
  • What kinds of goals are more likely to make us motivated to achieve them?
  • How do you set SMART goals?
  • Why do goals matter?
  • What kind of goals should you pursue to be happier in what you do?
  • How do you set team goals?
  • What strategies can you apply to overcome barriers to setting goals?
  • How do you develop SHARP plans of action that help you to achieve your goals?
  • What techniques can you use to get things done?
  • How do you set personal goals?


  • Tool 1: Conventional goal setting
  • Tool 2: Setting SMART goals that motivate
  • Tool 3: The kind of goals that will make you happier
  • Tool 4: Taking SHARP action
  • Tool 5: Team goals flowchart
  • Tool 6: Eight personal goal setting questions

Goal Setting Resources

You can find more of our goal setting resources by reading our featured pages (below).

Company goal setting

You’ll find our new e-guide: SMART Goals, SHARP Goals is a fantastic, goal setting resource. It’s packed with advice and tools – use it to help you set SMART goals then take SHARP actions to achieve them!

One of our affiliate partners also has an excellent, on-line, goal setting resource. GoalsOnTrack is a “personal success system that will help you really accomplish goals by getting the right things done”.



Where to go from here:


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