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Goal Setting Strategies…are underpinned by focus!

Central to all goal setting strategies is the need to focus. In this article we consider the two main schools of strategic thought and assess the impact of focus: crucial to whichever goal setting strategy you adopt.

This article is part of our series on Business Goal Setting : Using the “F-Plan”. The series consists of a structured process designed to designed 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.


Focusing on goal setting strategies

Two common ways to think about strategy are:

  • to look outward ( a market and customer start point)
  • to look inward ( a core competence start point, beginning with what you are good at)


Goal setting strategies – looking out/looking in

Goal Setting StrategiesSome advocate starting with a big picture, asking where the organisation wants to be, what is the market/customers that the organisation serves and wants to serve and what are their needs. This is looking outward.

Alternatively, strategic approaches can start with where you are, with what you are good at, and where your strengths lie as an organisation. This is looking inward.

One starts outside the organisation and asks what does the market/customers need, the other starts inside asking what we are good at and then, given what we are good at, what customers can we serve.


Goal setting strategies – a case of perspectives

The two schools of strategic thought provide different perspectives. Do you start by assessing what you are currently doing, and finding the seeds of the strategy within what you currently and then building towards a vision?

In some ways it is only when we pay attention to what we currently do that we begin to see the potential of what we could do. The alternative perspective is to ask do you step back and try to build a vision of what you would love to do first?

There is often merit in leaving behind what we are currently doing and asking as if for the first time what would we like to do, what would we love to do.


Goal setting strategies – the three stages of focus

In many ways it is useful to try thinking, feeling and seeing things from both perspectives. Think of them as different lenses by which you can look at your strategy: then bring the common strands together. By the way it is not an accident that thinking, feeling and seeing have been used in the sentence above.

It is a good idea to try and develop strategy from the perspective of what we think, how it would feel, and how we feel about the ideas, and how we would visualise and “see” things as different if the strategy became a reality.

Whichever approach you might adopt, though they have different start points, they all require a focus on what you are then going to do, a narrowing of options to a clear set of goals. Perhaps focus is not highlighted enough in goal setting strategies, yet it is fundamental if you intend to translate strategy into reality.

Focus first of all makes you choose what you are in fact going to do to make the future you want a reality. Choosing though must lead to a second stage of focus; to apply your ideas to the specific situation.

Experiment and test, put into practice, and then reflect on how effective the idea is. Having done this, and decided on the way forward, you must focus on implementation and ensure both your attention and your resources are focused on the task. The 3 stages of focus are:

  1. Focus of choice
  2. Focus of application – testing that the ideas can work
  3. Focus of implementation – putting resources to work to ensure that it does work.

How often have you found, both personally and in organisations, that good ideas have foundered because appropriate resources haven’t been available? One of the main reasons for this is that resources aren’t managed properly. Activities which should have been stopped or curtailed, releasing time and resource, haven’t been managed properly.


Goal setting strategies focus on your best people

And possibly, the most important of these is people. Drucker argues that you need the courage to put your best people to work on making the future happen. Goal setting strategies involve looking in looking out, looking at what you currently do, and what you would love to do, but they must involve focus of attention, of resources and most importantly of your best people.

Now follow the link to the next article in the series: Goal Setting Exercise: are you fast enough?


Turning your lesson on goal setting into action!

You can also find our more about the benefits of goal setting in our e-guide: SMART Goals, SHARP Goals to help you do just this. 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).

Goal setting strategies

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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