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Set Meaningful Company Goals Using the “Three Horizons” Framework

Jeffrey Lambert
Jun 10, 2019 8:03:00 AM

Every organization needs goals.  It’s absolutely essential to guiding your organization in the right direction. Yet many don’t take the time to lay out even a basic roadmap! According to a national small business survey conducted by Staples, more than 80 percent of small-business owners admitted that they don't monitor their goal-setting or enlist the proper "coaches" and advisors to help them achieve their goals.

Establishing business goals can be difficult! They force organizations to take sober looks at how what works and doesn’t work. They take time - certainly a rare resource especially for small business owners. And yet, the effort is worth it - especially if you’re interested in taking more of an inbound approach to marketing.

Why Create Business Goals?

Every business is going to face its own unique set of challenges. Whether you’re starting up or steadily expanding, growth takes time and effort. And, sometimes the difference between where you are and where you want to be can quickly feel insurmountable.

Just remember - nobody discovered new lands without drawing a map first! That’s where your business goals come in. Think about your business. It could be a team of one or one hundred. No matter the number, you have the opportunity to align everyone behind a set of shared goals, of shared visions that everyone is working toward. Goals need to inspire. If you don’t answer the “why are we here?” question, and it’s not for a lofty purpose, then motivation is harder to come by for your team.

Setting Short AND Long-Term Goals

Goals can be tricky, and they need to be reined in - no matter how experienced you are in the business world. No one needs a 25-year plan! Having goals and plans for the future isn't bad. The problem starts when businesses start to only focus on the future and lose sight of priorities in the present. To ensure your business stands the test of time, we recommend using the “Three Horizons” framework to set effective short and long term goals.

Why Use the “Three Horizons” Framework?

The “Three Horizons” framework is a way to conceptualize what your business wants to accomplish in the short-term, mid-term, and long-term. According to Bill Sharpe, author of “Three Horizons: Patterning of Hope” setting short, medium and long-term goals create a relationship between today and the future, making sure you focus on both.

Let’s take a look at each horizon, what they entail.

Horizon One: Present Success

Horizon one is about ensuring present success. These are the goals and strategies you put in place to maintain and extend your core business.

70% of your resources should be allocated to this horizon.

Horizon Two: Linking Short and Long-Term Goals

Horizon two is about linking your short and long-term goals. Horizon two is where you business genuinely begins to transform and lean into emerging innovations in its industry, without completely losing sight of what made horizon one so successful.

20% of your resources should focus on this horizon.

Horizon Three: Tomorrow’s Accomplishments

The third horizon objective focuses entirely on the future. These goals are meant to focus on new, exciting business models. Horizon three initiatives support where you think your industry is headed and how you’re innovating now to invest in the future and remain one step ahead. If you don’t take the time to identify potential industry shifts, you’ll become the next Blockbuster Video or RadioShack!

10% of your team’s efforts and resources should go to this horizon.

Keeping an Eye on Your Goals

You’ve taken an important step by creating company horizons. You’ve now answered the questions “where do we want to go?” and “what are we trying to achieve?”. When set correctly, goals can align everyone in your organization, from the executive to the junior team member. When you pay attention to growth progress, you’ll see continual growth on your business’s horizon!

Just make sure to review your goals on a regular basis; once a quarter is sufficient. Goals need to adjust based on data, market shifts, and company growth. Once horizons are set and reviews are scheduled, it may be time to take a second look at your company’s foundational principles and how they affect customer relationships. Check out Rizen’s guide on how to inject empathy into your business by using inbound principles.

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