Goals have been a part of workplace DNA for decades, but only recently have organizations relied heavily on goal setting models to align employees and remain agile. At Goal Summit 2016, Don Sull, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, presented some big ideas on how and why goals can make a company vision a reality.

Here are five big takeaways:

Goals are a must-have. If you are in a volatile market and/or in a complex organization, goals are a must. Teams that have clear and ambitious goals outperform those that don’t. Those using specific and ambitious goals that previously performed at 50 percent can increase performance to 80 percent. When feedback in addition to goals are introduced, the average performer will increase to 90 percent.

These are the four drivers of execution across organizations. Based on evidence, four things drive execution in complex organizations in volatile markets:

  1. performance
  2. alignment
  3. adaptation
  4. coordination

Goals should be ambitious. Ambitious goals at the organizational level lead to disruptive innovation, creative solutions, building new capabilities, business model innovation and rapid learning.

These are the four critical components to effective goal setting:

  1. revise goals more than once a year
  2. meet regularly with boss to discuss progress
  3. constantly analyze variance from goal
  4. discuss difficult issues openly and honestly

Most goals aren’t transparent, but they should be. As it stands, 80 percent of employees don’t know their colleagues’ goals or have access to their goals, and fewer than half of managers talk about how their goals are connected to the company’s strategy. With increased transparency, employees can stay aligned and achieve goals that help the company achieve its long term objectives.

When organizations use goals as a driving force behind company alignment and achievement, they become a powerful tool that really move the needle. Stay tuned as we announce plans for Goal Summit 2017!