The Basics of Business – The Principle of Setting Clear Goals Without Excuses

Setting and achieving goals is the fundamental principle upon which companies operate.

Generally speaking, when I consult with team members about setting a goal, I only factor in achieving KPIs and milestones.

The essence of setting and achieving goals is distinguishing true/false elements without leaving any room for argument.

KPIs are good indicators for promises that can be statistically expressed, while milestones refer to propositions that can be clearly defined as true or false.

**Good Examples**


– Achieving 1,600 website visitors

– Weekly sales


– Completion of service v1.0 launch

– Confirmation of XX project proposal by the CEO

**Bad Example**

– Studying React ->

– Double revenue -> Based on what time frame? What measurement criterion?

– Arbitrary project proposal draft -> May result in indefinite postponement


1. The most important element required for this approach to work is trust between the parties making the agreement. Both parties involved must be able to depend on each other and have faith that everyone involved will act in the best interest of the company.  Work without trust only breeds doubt and suspicion.

2. Standards and criteria must be explicit: measurement tools, timeline, rounding up/down, etc.

3. At times, taking up the “challenge” may be more necessary over absolute “promises”. In such instances, a goal with a 70% success probability needs to be set in addition to a team-wide consensus that it’s okay to fail. Separate notations may be required for such cases.

4. It’s recommended to set additional indicators that prepares for any negative side effects. Suppose that increasing sales led to a decline in service quality. It’s important to set a supplementary indicator that customer satisfaction scores must be above a certain level.

5. Once an agreement is made, everything must be recorded and checked. Overlooking these things may give off the impression that the aforementioned agreements may not be of great importance.

6. It’s crucial for the leader to take responsibility in order to maintain trust and confidence among employees. It’s important to identify whether the goal was unrealistic, and understand what unforeseen variables occurred. Once identified, the next order of action shouldn’t be to play the blame game, but to establish a solution.

7. It’s possible to gauge an individual’s capabilities by regularly assigning tasks to a person. This will gradually allow business to become more predictable.

8. It’s better to receive simple deliverables regularly.

(ex. Read one book -> Read the book and write a single page book review

[Explanation] Reading one book can also be seen as a KPI and since it’s relatively apparent whether or not the given task was completed. But the degree to which the task was completed (how detailed and in what manner) can vary between individuals. By receiving a direct output, it’s easier to actually check whether the promise was fulfilled as agreed upon.

OKR has been on the rise lately. Its basic principles follow this convention as well. It’s important to recognize the fundamental principle as opposed to insisting on the methodology.

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