· 2 min read · Features

Olympic athletes goal-setting can inspire business too


Today marks one year until the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. This is a powerful landmark that installs great pride and expectation into the minds of people all over the UK. Those who have tickets, who are intending to visit London or are planning to watch events from their living-rooms can easily imagine what they will be seeing and feeling a year from today.

I wonder how many people reading this have as clear a business vision for the next year? What will they be seeing and feeling a year from now in their offices? It is a business leader's job to make that vision as clear and as tangible as possible, and using the Olympics as an example can help do this. The build-up to the Olympics has started in earnest, with TV advertisements from the sponsors on our screens, helping produce a sense of excitement and anticipation for the big event. We are also beginning to see a sense of national pride and support for Team GB. Business leaders can take inspiration from these events - can you communicate your vision in an effective way that excites and motivates your staff, giving them a sense of organisational pride and desire for success? Our top tips for a successful vision are:

Be clear and concise, jargon won't help inspire people

Communicate the vision in a compelling and engaging way - will an email really motivate, or should you deliver this in person, via video or using creative media?

Take people with you to your vision of the future - capture their hearts and minds, as well as producing punchy facts and figures

The vision should not be treated as merely a company statement. There should be specific goals that, if achieved, would lead to you achieving your company's vision. Athletes are now gearing up for the 2012 selection process, and with the public celebration of a year to go, their goals will be clearly mapped out for them and they will know exactly what type of performance their coaches need to see from them in order to be selected for Team GB. This time of year also resonates within business - the end of quarter two, and the beginning of the second half of the year - time to gather your team together, take stock and complete a six-month review, then look to the future. Are we as businesspeople making the most of the review period? Do we know what it will take to produce a gold medal-winning performance next year? Athletes use the process of goal setting - breaking your overall outcome goal (be it promotion or winning a medal) into smaller chunks. This can easily be replicated in the workplace and helps to clarify and simplify what can be a difficult process of planning for future performance. From the outcome goal, the first step is to break it into performance goals - critical milestones and KPIs to be achieved. For a rower, this could be to row 2km in under five minutes. In business, this could be delivering a key presentation in front of senior leaders. And then, most critically, to break each of those into process goals - actions, tasks and behaviours needed to deliver the performance goals. For the rower, this is making sure they have the right diet and fluid intake, sufficient recovery after training and enough sleep each night. For the businessperson, this could be getting your slides ready two weeks in advance, having three run-throughs with colleagues and preparing yourself for any obvious questions. It is clear to see that each small success, and process goal achieved, builds up towards the performance goal and then upwards still to the outcome goal. By taking inspiration from the athletes preparing for London 2012, businesses can plan for their own winning performances. With each goal achieved, the business is working towards the vision, and Great British athletes are working towards winning gold medals during London 2012.

Adrian Moorhouse is MD of Lane4