Micro-Goals: How to Hit Targets, Learn, and Reorganize

Micro-goals are a novel concept in strategy. They allow a tactical segmentation of organizational plans. In a sense, it’s like re-creating your organization at a micro-scale.

Micro-goals are a way for your organization to learn. You use them to determine what outcomes are achievable by a small, very special, task force. Then you measure the progress of such a team and learn as much as you can.

Micro-goals, or how to hit targets, learn, and reorganize

The benefits are incredible. First, you get to solve particular, crucial issues. And then, you get to develop cross-departmental teams. And learn a great deal about your organization and how to do things better.

Read this to learn more about micro-goals and waging war against inefficiency.

Micro-Goals – reasons to use them

Sometimes when you want something done right, you have to do it by setting micro-goals. And throwing a special team at those micro-goals.

But wait. Aren’t goals the “pillars on which an organizational mission stands on”? Of course they are. Let’s clarify.

See, when you set micro-goals you’re creating a scaled-down version of your organization. And you’re manning it with a special crew. Argonauts, if you like.

There are many reasons to use micro-goals. Firstly, you could want to tackle a special problem. In effect, you will need a method to organize the team that works on that project. Secondly, you could want to test a new idea, or a new approach, or a new solution. Establish a study design, set on a sample size, and do your research. This results in amazing intel on how to improve.

Micro-Goals originate with customer-centered issues. For example, “double sales in 6 months” is a goal. It’s like saying: “Look, everybody, do whatever it takes to achieve this”. And all the specific steps taken in the right direction are micro-goals.

What happens next is unbelievable. People rally on and do their best work on the objective. Hence, communication becomes very effective. And leadership becomes inspiring. Everything is clockwork, spot on. And 6 months later you see it: sales have increased by 80%. Which is amazing.

And now you’re wondering why and how to replicate your success. Yet it all comes from setting Micro-Goals right.

How to set hot micro-goals

Micro-Goals are a lot like objectives. By this we mean that micro-goals are measurable. They are determinable, attainable. Your people get where you want them to get. It’s a minimalistic way to convey direction.

Make good use of effective communication when you set micro-goals. Tell your team “we need to double our sales in 6 months”. Don’t do it like this: “we need to double our sales”. Nor like this: “we need to increase our sales in 6 months”.

First rule of setting micro-goals is a high level of specificity. Second rule of micro-goals is to always consider if you’re going to use a “special-ops” team or not. You can set micro-goals without a special team.

In fact, startups can set micro-goals like this. Startups typically are a small, special-ops type of team. New startup strategies already make amazing use of proper micro-goals.

Let’s say, for example, that you have a brilliant startup idea. The best way to go about it is to test it. Throw everything you have at it. OR limit risks and spend as little as possible so that you prove your concept. They might look like two competing strategies. Yet they’re not.

Micro-goals reunite a bit of both of these approaches. For example, your startup special team could try and achieve this micro-goal. “Double sales with only $4000, no time limit”. Or “this month, all sales go to the marketing budget”.

And the best part is at the end. This is how to make micro-goals hot. Set symbolic rewards. An evening with a professional karaoke machine. A team-building for the entire team. Something people would love to do.

Selecting your Special-Ops Micro-Goal team

If you’re a startup, you might not have a team to select for micro-battles; instead, you can use your entire team.

Larger organizations, however, have the luxury of working with a lot of people. And those people deal with a lot of redundancy. Due to overhead. And too many meetings, perhaps. They would love nothing more than to do something energizing and fun. Hence, you get to select a special team.

Firstly, you need the heart of your team. You know who they are. These are effective natural leaders. They have leadership qualities that bring people together. And this is an amazing opportunity to test a person’s leadership. Select the heart of your special team and see how they run with the project.

Secondly, you need the brain of your operations. Next to the heart, the brain. A person capable of observing and reviewing, of deconstructing and mapping. You want this person to be there to account for everything. Analyzing what is happening and reporting on it.

These two are the Creative-Tactical Combo (CTC). People follow heart or head, and clearly benefit from both. Alongside the CTC, you have support roles, preferably with integrated responsibilities. Which is to say, they have more than one charge. Support roles can actually be a one-person department.

The idea is to have a “Core” that can organize itself for the micro-goal. As long as you have a CTC, things will follow smoothly. The CTC will ask for assistance or more resources, budgeting, reporting. And the team will grow as an independent task-force. While working, the team is 100% engaging the micro-goal. After reaching the target, the debriefing happens. Hence, everybody wins because everybody learns.

Key wins of trying micro-goals

Here are some of the reasons you should at least experiment with micro-goals. You know, besides the fact that it’s fun.

Use targeted efficiency.

Let’s start with the obvious. Micro-goals are perfect occasions for ad-hoc teams to organize themselves around and bond. These teams go forth and target a key issue. Large departments would work on that issue long and hard. Then, they would make a timid move. Micro-goals and special teams, targeted efficiency. A lean, mean, productive machine.

Develop future interdepartmental ties.

Creating ad-hoc teams brings together people from across departments. It’s almost as if you’re creating a temporary startup, ready to innovate. Seems like people will bond, and due to the bonds you create, they will collaborate more naturally.

Increase interaction of hierarchically separated employees.

Micro-goals bring people together. You can mix and match your teams as you see fit. You can even try to flatten hierarchies, albeit temporarily. And you can get introverts to mingle. Or have unknown talent under the spotlight. Seems like the possibilities are endless.

Add a new level of intensity.

Task-force members will be more focused and more “in the game”, no matter what they do. The reason is simple: they’re playing with the new toy. And everybody loves playing with the new toy.

Spot future leaders, early on.

Natural leaders bud out in small teams. And you can tell them apart really fast. After all, these are people that very soon will add value to any team. They inspire and motivate, and always reach their goal.

Map your clients and reposition yourself for success.

What better way to learn about your business than to try and see how a scaled down version works. You get knowledge beyond your usual channels. While you learn, you become more successful.

Overall, try and organize at least one major goal in micro-goals. Firstly, test the concept in a safe environment. For example, target cutting costs on office supplies by 75% in one month. Secondly, analyse how well it worked. Since the results are likely to be amazing, you will be happy. Lastly, organize the task force for a larger project and see what happens. Finally, you might learn a great deal about your people, your business, and your market.

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