Falling Behind with Your Goals?

Here's how to get unstuck...

Read time: 4 minutes

In this edition

It seems like the year is flying by. We’re well into April, which means we should have visibility on Q1 results and a good sense of how Q2 might unfold.

Now is therefore a good time to be checking in on progress toward your 2024 goals.

Hopefully, you’re in good shape. But more often than not there are hurdles you’ve encountered that are hindering your progress.

This week’s newsletter talks about how to unjam the gears. Let me know what you think.

Internal Hires and Promotions

We’re about three weeks into the second quarter. For those who began 2024 with the intention of executing a new strategy or transforming your business, you should, by now, have a pretty good sense whether you’re on track. If you are, congratulations—that’s great news! If you’re even mildly behind where you want to be, read on…

What being off-track typically looks like

1. The team is still doing the “old things” and hasn't started doing “new things”.

Part of the appeal of strategy is that it is broad in nature. Yet by the time it makes its way to the factory floor, it usually runs headlong into details of the company’s execution. Sometimes, the questions are tactical; other times, the new strategy requires doing things clients may not agree with. Inevitably, there will be people who are resistant to change.

2. Prudence devolves into plodding

Big changes scare people. Big changes often lead teams to revert to risk-averse behaviors, representing their lowest common denominator in decision-making. Their natural tendency, therefore, is to be implementing them very slowly.

3. People are actively opposing the change

Poorly communicated changes (especially if they are contentious) will invariably suffer from lack of alignment in the team, which then hampers execution.

Each of the above situations represents a failure not just of planning, but of communication.

Reasons you might be off-track

1. Conflicting goals or incentives

Conflicting incentives arise for numerous reasons. In organizations that lack mature goal-setting processes, the sin is normally one of omission, not commission. Goals are underspecified, and it is only when things come to a screeching halt that the lack of alignment dawns on the organization. In larger organizations, size either limits visibility into goals or creates intrinsic complexity that prevents efficient goal setting.

Likewise, differences in incentives will create friction. This is often seen in interactions between sales and operations or product teams. Sales teams are there to close deals and grow revenue, whereas operations and product teams are more concerned with a smooth and efficient user experience.

2. Divergent Views

Differences in approach or strategy can also lead to coordination problems. There may be genuine differences on how configurable or customizable a product should be, or how much human interaction there needs to be in a client engagement. Moreover, these divergent views are likely to be correlated with the team’s goals.

3. Lack of clear leadership

Any moderately complex program—and any program that requires the coordination of multiple people—is prone to delays when there is no project leader or accountability for outcomes is unclear.

4. Human factors

Finally, whether it is personal ego or team parochialism, coordination gives rise to a range of human frailties that can inhibit effective execution. We all know what these look like.

Solutions for Effective Coordination

1. Surface and confront the issues

The first step in addressing coordination challenges is to surface and confront the underlying issues. This involves open, objective communication among teams. It means specifically identifying each team’s goals, incentives, and views in a given area, discussing the differences constructively and respectfully, and finding alignment that reduces friction.

2. Define and reinforce the 'Greater Good'

It is important for each team to have its own goals. It is equally important for there to be a “Greater Good”. Leaders have a duty to define this and explain to people what it looks like, whether that is in terms of the companies objective goals or the coordination across teams to get there. It is important that the “greater good” does not fall prey to appeasement. The right decision for the company should always be the priority.

And by all means, reinforce this through word and deed. Recognize and extol good behavior; call out and minimize bad behavior.

3. Make sure accountability and timelines are clear

If you don’t have a formal plan, you should create one. If you do, make sure you’re clear on who is doing what and when. Get people to commit in front of the group.

4. Create a cadence

Any project that is even moderately complex or involves more than one tight-knit group of people should have a regular cadence. Status updates can be very lightweight when things are moving smoothly (email/slack updates). But live discussions are essential to efficiently break through challenging situations.

5. Establish decision-making parameters

Establishing the rules of the game is critical. This should include a forum for decision-making and an escalation process that helps break deadlocks. Teams should strive to find solutions themselves before escalating issues to executives as a last resort.

6. Leverage tools and technology

Sometimes lack of coordination is a sin of omission rather than commission. In a remote or hybrid environment especially, the normal act of operating in one’s own circle will hinder visibility on work being formed. Internal knowledge and communications tools from Slack to Notion to Jira to simple online file sharing can help even casual observers be better connected with other workstreams. The key is not just in choosing these tools but in using them intentionally to enhance transparency and reduce barriers to effective coordination.


If you’ve fallen behind, there is still time to catch up. The road to transformation requires persistence. This means helping your teams to lean into the discomfort of the new, to confront the challenges head on, and to take steps, no matter how small, toward your goals.

Read more on the closing the gap between strategy and implementation here.

LinkedIn Roundup

When you’re ready, there are two other ways I can help. Email me at hello@jddeitch.com for more information.

Business Advisory

I help growth-stage leaders and investors in B2B tech-enabled services businesses align strategy with execution. I focus on the twin engines of execution excellence—process and people—to transform your business, paving the way for growth and enhanced profitability.

Transaction Support

With 20+ years of operating experience and a substantial M&A track record, I help investors evaluate strategic and operational strengths and weaknesses and navigate post-deal risks to unlock value.

Subscribe to the newsletter

Join a community of leaders committed to impact and growth with integrity. Our weekly Great Exec/ution newsletter provides proven tips, strategies and resources to scale your business and your career (and I will never spam you or sell your info!)

Share this article

Helping leaders
outperform.  scale up.  grow in confidence.  find balance. build great teams. achieve excellence.

Start here