How Targeting is a Crazy Activity

By Bob Morrell on October 1, 2019

Today, I read that the UK economy is doing a bit better than expected and not heading for the recession everyone was predicting a few weeks ago. In one way that’s great news. In another, what has this done to your forecasts? When the original news came about recession, how many managers were asked to forecast and re-forecast their figures?

How many civil servants are now re-imagining the future where things are a little better? What does this mean for the UK overall? If you were previously thinking about investing, would you now consider the possibility again? It’s all about time and effort. Where are you best placed to spend your time?

In our view the worst place to spend any time is forecasting and targeting. In the end, as has been proven today, it’s all a bit of a guess.  Wouldn’t your time be better placed doing something more valuable?

Targeting forces us to manage around what has already taken place, or what we think might occur, without any concept of what really will happen. Everything that has passed is history. You can’t change it. Neither can you change a future that hasn’t happened yet. Yet we ask talented managers to stop leading their teams in order to create their ‘best guess’ on what they’re going to do.

The unpredictability is certain. Very senior people should stop being so obsessed with numbers because if they were any good, they’d know how ridiculous this task is. They should be encouraging managers to lead and help their teams and departments do their very best in the current circumstances – then the resulting figures will be the best ‘achievable’ despite the market conditions.

We were once approached at a conference and asked if we could help a company create 5 years of financial forecasts, for a fee. We gave them this for nothing. ‘Some years will be better than you expected, and one or two will be much, much worse, and the rest will be about what you expect. That is all certain, so with that in mind stop worrying about figures and make sure you’re doing your best in every year, which will do more than anything else to support your performance.’

Employing figures to crunch made up numbers is totally crazy. Employ them to use their creativity to grow your business, nothing else.