Are You Aiming for the Moon?

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy gave America a tough goal. In the now famous speech he told the assembled Congress that before the decade was out America would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. It was an inspiring speech and it captured the imagination of every American, whether they believed the task was possible or not.One of my favorite stories, and I am sure you have heard it, is about the time President Kennedy visited NASA. During one trip he came across a cleaner, and asked him what his job at NASA was. The cleaner replied “My Job is to put a man on the moon, Sir.”Now I don’t know if the story is true, but it’s inspiring. In a facility full of high-powered individuals and great minds, even the cleaner was completely on board with the strategy.While we may not be planning to put a person on the moon, we can learn a lot from the story. It may sound ridiculous, but our businesses need to be a little like NASA. Every organisation needs to have a clear goal. It’s been said that blessed is the man that aims at nothing as he always hits his target.Distilling this further, there are two clear things every individual within your business should know: what is your strategy and what will it take to get there?In a previous life I spent 15 years working for various huge multi-nationals. The largest employed 150,000 people worldwide. At the time I was a 16 year old apprentice, just learning my trade. I didn’t know what the guy sat next to me did, let alone the core aims of the business. Not understanding how you are benefiting the greater good of the business is disempowering and inefficient, and doesn’t lead to commitment.At my present company, Actinic, our goal is very simple. We want to be the market leader in our chosen field. It’s an ambitious aim, but to achieve this there are four values driving everyone in the company:Being friendly and approachableProviding good valueProviding excellent qualityBeing innovativeNow our goals are not just a bunch of soundbytes we dreamt up over lunch. They are the result of working with, and talking to, the team. Everyone in the business has had input, everyone’s opinion is valued. Having a defined set of values and goals is incredibly liberating. It helps with every business decision we need to make.Now we are far from perfect. Working within our business is not a wonderful Utopia, but there is participation, and the goals are clear for everyone.I think the need to know what you’re aiming for applies to every business. So, how about yours, is Mars your next stop, or is it the next town? One thing’s for sure, if you don’t know, you won’t be getting there soon.