Aspiration vs Commitment

Let’s talk about one of my favourite topic today. The idea that what we budgeted for, what we signed off in our yearly goals, and/or what we forecasted, is a commitment to deliver the results, instead of being an aspirational number. What’s the difference?


Aspiration means what we wish the numbers to be. At it’s best, its a dream. At it’s worse, it’s just numbers given to keep the boss happy. However, we are operating in an environment of public listed companies (which many of us are), therefore all numbers are taken as given, therefore not being realistic and serious about the numbers create serious problems for the organization. I have no doubt this is the default position for many budget owners, just give the boss what he/she wants, so that they will get out of my face. This is akin to kicking the football down the road, and deal with it later.


Commitment means we made a promise to deliver.  Here’s a tip.  The best way NOT to impress the boss is not to be too clever to work the system.  The best way is to show you know what you are doing, that you know your business well, that you deliver consistently, and commit what you promise. No bosses like surprises, the ability to accurately read the near term future (seems like an impossibility right), the early communication of troubles, these are valuable traits which bosses values.

Of the many things I learned over the years, one of the most important lessons to learn is to understand, in your business, what are the drivers for the numbers. This applies to both top line and bottom line numbers. Just like in problem solving or root cause analysis or FMEA, don’t stop at asking why one time. Ask 7 times, and you will be amazed by what you will discover. But this is a topic for another day.

If you have read this far, then you are ready to answer this question. “The numbers I have committed, does it reflects my ability?” “Will achieving the numbers reflect my potential, my result driven nature, my talent?”

Speaking of which, time to go check my numbers now!

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