In 1993, newly minted IBM CEO, Lou Gerstner, when asked about his vision for the company, replied that IBM was in a mess and he did not have the time now to indulge in vague forecasts. The press reacted poorly. Descriptions of Mr. Gerstner’s vision for IBM would be helpful for quarterly guidance. The press was not asking for a futuristic, vaguely mystifying, inspirational message. They were looking for visionary guidance to better understand where IBM wanted to go and how it planned to get there.
Analysts and observers want to hear a specific and meaningfully encouraging vision that serves as the corporation’s guiding star. Short-term goals are essential. But so is the future ambition.
Using SMART objectives as the basis for guidance provides a framework for delivering both. SMART Objectives mean objectives that are: Specific, Measurable, Aspirational yet achievable, Related to overall business growth, and Time-specific.
CEOs must optimize the short-term with the long-term. To offer meaningful messaging, CEOs must rely on SMART objectives.
- Specific: Saying that the brand is doing X but not providing details frustrates listeners.
- Measurable: Remember, especially today, all claims are verifiable.
- Aspirational and achievable: Ensure that plans are possible dreams.
- Related to overall business growth
- Time-specific: for the short-term goals, Wall Street can be very impatient. For long-term goals, make the horizon just close enough so investors and analysts can see the brand there.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Larry Light, Author of The Paradox Planet: Creating Brand Experiences For The Age Of I
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