If somebody asked you what your company’s goals are would you have a good answer? Would you be able to tell them explicitly what you work towards each day? Chances are if you asked someone what their company’s goals are they would give you an elegant or technical response that ultimately boils down to: grow our market share or make more money than we did last year. Ok, but how? By selling anything you can to anyone who might be willing to buy it? What’s that going to do to their supply chain or production scheduling?

Maybe even more importantly, do your employees know what your company’s goals are? If you go into a non-lean workplace and ask around it’s almost a guarantee that the stock response from the people working on the line is going to be something along the lines of “so the president can get a bigger check at the end of the year”. Who wants to work somewhere like that? Someone who’s just collecting a check until the next opportunity comes along, that’s who. And really, can you blame that person? Whether true or not (and odds are that it isn’t) perception is everything and without clearly sated, clearly defined goals management is erratic and employees are listless.   

Newport Shipyard Plaque

                                          There's little doubt about what the goal of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company was when it was built in 1886

It is the duty of senior management to set forth a clear definition of what exactly their company is striving for and how they will go about doing so, and what is not stated is just as important as what is stated. Just as in the example above saying “Our goal is to expand market share and grow by 5% year over year” is very different than saying “Our goal is to expand market share and grow by 5% year over year by optimizing our supply chain and reducing our quality defects to less than 3%”. The second statement gives clear parameters about how the goal will be achieved and gives all employees, from managers to the people on the production line, something to point to when asked why they did what they did.  

There is a big difference between having goals and having stated goals