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Celebrating 50 years of Building High Performance Corporate Teams - 1971 to 2021
Bruce McAlpineGoal SettingLeadership

Goal Setting and Long Range Planning…Seriously???

By November 15, 2022No Comments

It’s annual Goal Setting time again!!!  Yeah!!!

But seriously, what’s the point?  How can we set meaningful goals when the world is so unpredictable?

Who amongst us, when preparing our goals last November, could have predicted the following events in 2022:

  • PM Trudeau would declare a State of Emergency to deal with a protest rally in Ottawa, causing a political backlash and an investigation which is still on-going.
  • Russia would invade Ukraine, causing enormous hardship to the people of Ukraine and economic turmoil all around the world.
  • Great Britain would have 3 Prime Ministers, causing tremendous downward pressure on the Pound and uncertainty in Europe.
  • Israel would form its 5th government in 4 years, re-electing a former Prime Minister who is currently under investigation for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and whose new hard line government is causing great concern in the Arab world.
  • Brazil would re-elect a former President who served prison time for money laundering and corruption.
  • Provincial elections in Canada would dramatically change the political landscape in BC and Alberta.
  • The Canadian housing market would over-heat and collapse, and efforts to curb inflation would result in rising interest rates and a potential recession.
  • The price of diesel which fuels all of the trucks in our supply chain would reach $3.00/l in New Brunswick.
  • Elon Musk would self-destruct over the terribly handled purchase of Twitter, causing a Tipping Point in the social media industry.
  • FTX would declare bankruptcy, casting doubt on the crypto-currency industry which shed $150B of market value in an week.

So, how can we set meaningful goals when we can’t predict or foresee the future?

Here are 3 key concepts to consider:

1. Plan for the likely future, but build contingencies for “worst case scenarios”.

Many of our detailed business plans are based on what we believe is the most likely scenario for the coming period.  While this plan is important, it will be of no benefit to us if the world does not unfold as we had predicted.  It is imperative to consider worst case scenarios, and to at least have some idea as to their impact, and how we should react.

For example, how would the world respond if China invaded Taiwan, and what would be the impact on your business?  How would you respond if COVID 23 hit?  What is the worst (NOT best) thing new technology could do to your business?  What if the price of diesel stays above $3.00/l?

Remember, “you can’t control the environment, you can only control our actions”.   Bottom line – be prepared and focus on what you can control.

2. Ensure your operation is as lean as it can be as you go into the coming year.

There will be no room for fat in the coming year, especially if we slip into a global recession.  This is the time to re-examine your operation to see if there is any fat, duplication of services or inefficiencies that have crept into the system since your last review.

It is especially important not to give in to employee demands to increase wage levels to offset inflation, as these become fixed overheads which will not come down as inflation returns to normal levels.

3. Keep your subordinates and employees as engaged and informed as possible.

As leaders we’re expected to have a well thought-out plan.  At the same time our teams are also looking to us for motivation, guidance, support and encouragement.  They will need to fully understand and buy into the actions we take as we steer our ship through the coming turbulent waters.  On-going open two-way dialog is crucial to build the bonds of trust in the good times before the bad times come.  Then, focus on the good things that are happening, see the best in others and be ready to help those who are struggling.


In turbulent times planning is more important than ever.  However, this is NOT “planning as usual for business as usual”.  Make sure you consider the worst that can possibly happen and consider appropriate contingencies.  Make sure your ship is a lean and sea-worthy as possible as you head out into troubled waters.  And make sure your crew is informed and engaged and has “bought in” to the battle plan.

About the author: Bruce McAlpine is President of Fulcrum Search Science Inc., a Toronto-based executive search firm solving Mission-Critical hiring challenges throughout North America for 50 years.  He is also a Past President of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services and a Past President of the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada.  He can be reached at 416.779.8505 or .