As director of software development, it is part of my duty to determine the technological direction of our organization. Over the last several weeks, team members and I have been doing mental exercises imagining a possible reality 3 to 5 years into the future. From there, we work backward and determine what steps can get us to that reality.
During this process, our most interesting observation is how difficult it is to separate ambitions from goals.
Ambition is defined as the desire and determination to achieve success. Coming up with examples are easy:
- We want to be the best provider of X.
- We want to have the fastest API for providing X.
- We want a lot of users.
- We want a lot of readers.
These are ambitious statements but are very vague and add little to planning.
Goals are more critical to planning. A goal is defined as the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result, or the destination of a journey. Goals are measurable.
- We want our average page load time to be under 1 second.
- We want to grow our readership from 1,000 to 10,000.
- We want a 30% open rate for marketing emails.
When planning, it is important to focus the team on defining goals and not just making ambitious statements. Ambitious statements are addictive. They make us feel optimistic about our future without the burden of accountability. Goals make us accountable. With goals, we can take steps towards our final result. Ultimately, every team can start with ambitions but must need to realize and execute on goals.