The right way to set goals

Or at least a better way than just picking a suspiciously round number — increase sales by 15% — out of thin air.

The Wall St. J. reports that Toyota has an “ambitious  goal of doubling sales and production to 2 million vehicles” in China.

What does this mean? Are they building new factories, slashing prices, piling on subsidies? Like they did shortly after the turn of the new millennium, leading to rampant quality problems?

Here’s what “a person at Toyota” said about this goal in that same article:

In China, Toyota is a follower. We’re trying to catch up to rivals. Instead of chasing sales and production volume, we want to focus on Toyota-like products to build our position. There is no way we can compete by suddenly making huge investments to build excessive production facilities. Yoko Kubota, “Toyota to Invest $1.4 Billion to Meet Growing U.S., China Demand” WSJ, April 15, 2015

As Boyd insisted, goals, plans and the like are just intentions. Wants. “Be nice ifs …” Strategy, then, is the art of managing those intentions — discarding plans and creating new ones, for example, to shape and respond to an everchanging and incompletely understood world — in order to achieve our objectives, often at the expense of our opponents or competitors.

As he put it:

What is strategy? A mental tapestry of changing intentions for harmonizing and focusing our efforts as a basis for realizing some aim or purpose in an unfolding and often unforeseen world of many bewildering events and many contending interests. Strategic Game, 58

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3 thoughts on “The right way to set goals

  1. I think it could be established that there are 3 domains within any OODA loop. There is structure, culture, and position. Position is by far the hardest domain to change.
    Position has an advantage (otherwise it wouldn’t exist) and, as war has shown, changing an advantage can not guarantee that a winning culture can be built around the new position nor that the structure is right or wrong for the culture that occupies it.
    Because the loop is in time/steps, all the domains have to fit (harmonize) within the time allowed, and it is usually easier to change the structure of the loop first.
    But if the structure fails (if the Tea Party has its way) then the culture contained inside the structure can get “lost”, i.e. hold no position. (As an example, I have heard it said that there are many lost generations in America today. The trick is to keep yours off of the list. 🙂
    So Toyota has decided to build on the position, instead of changing it. My question might be, “will that change in size be from the structural construction within the environment or will Toyota build on the cultural within the area of the position? My second question might be, will this building mean an increase or decrease, of their advantage, in the position they now hold, or do they expect everything to remain the same?
    Of course history has proven this a winning strategy, but with costs.

    • ” I went straight to it, after reviewing your post, it also made me laugh.”
      Sure, it is funny enough, but, back then, who would hack into an Apple, if all you are going to get is a bunch of Liberal Arts graphics, but at the same time, who would have thought something was revolutionary, if all you were doing is looking through the same Window?
      This gave Apple an advantage at a time they were able to take advantage of the position they were in.
      It just turned, when positioning for an advantage, form was more important than content or what the consumers wanted was more important than what they need, i.e. security in a working environment.
      Who would have thunk such a thing? 🙂
      How is that Apple timepiece doing? People not quite on-board?

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