Last fall we celebrated our 30th Anniversary at the Leadership Edge, and we spent some time looking back at what’s happened in the last three decades.

The last 30 years have given us insights and experiences that enable a clear sight line on the road ahead for life sciences. We’ve been there as a partner to help more than 6,500 leaders in over 600 companies build and scale from inception through commercialization through our proven Assess, Guide, Develop process. That time spent through every level of the organization from the boardroom to the bench allows us to see the pitfalls and possibilities along every step of the way.

So as we look at the NXT 30 – and the start of a new decade in 2020 – we see clearly with 20/20 vision.

Part of seeing clearly is knowing where to focus. In organizations – especially those in the life sciences – setting goals, evaluating progress and determining what course corrections are needed is critical. But it all starts with goal setting.

Be clear on the vision and goals for the company, and consider:

  1. What is the long term vision of the company?
  2. What is your strategy for getting there?
  3. What are the goals for the year? Where do you need to be by the end of the year to know you are on track with your strategy?
  4. What are our departmental goals in support of the larger organization’s targets?
  5. Are these goals inspiring?
  6. Is there at least one BHAG (big hairy audacious goal)? Something that scares you a little and invigorates you a lot.

Here’s a process that we use as a framework for goal setting:

  • Draft individual goals that are aligned with and help achieve your departmental goals as well as those of the overall organization, moving you toward the successful accomplishment of your strategy and longer term vision. For example, if the organization is focused on successfully moving a compound into the clinic by the end of the fourth quarter, a departmental goal might be to secure a CRO and an individual goal might be to Successfully identify and contract with a CRO for project XYZ by November 20.
  • Set SMART goals. (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and tangible.) Making sure goals are SMART helps organize and attain your goals and provides a sense of direction. In science, often times goals may feel intangible or impossible to put a timeline to. Afterall, you are doing what has never been done.  Ask yourself, how will we measure success this year?  It might mean you make a go/no go decision on a compound by a certain date.  It could be that you have identified a target for validation.  I know.  This sounds scary.  You likely have to do the work on many targets before you have identified the one you’d like to bet on.  That process is a part of your action plan, not your goal.  Your goal is to identify a target for validation.
  • Partner with a team member who can help identify anything you missed – you’ll be amazed at the ideas that can come from a team approach. Often times, getting insight from someone you work closely with can provide a different perspective.
  • Make revisions to your goals as priorities change or new information is gained, and finally…
  • Talk about your goals with your leader to make sure you’re aligned and set up for success.

In our programs, we help leaders with goal setting and planning by introducing two different tools.  This provides the flexibility for different types of thinking.

The goal planning sheet takes the process to the NEXT step and helps

  • Identify the benefits resulting from achieving a goal to you, the team and others because those benefits are often a motivating force when the going gets tough.
  • Think about any potential obstacles that could slow or impede goal attainment and define solutions to those challenges. This minimizes the likelihood of you being blind sided or surprised.  The more potential obstacles you anticipate and build solutions for in your plan, the greater your likelihood of success.
  • Build a tracking system so you stay on point. Catch yourself early if you stray the course, before you are at a point of no return.
  • Create affirmations and visualization to support your goals. We need our mind and our actions supporting our goals.
  • List the tasks required to reach your goals with target dates, and responsible parties.


We just had a great strategic offsite with our team at The Leadership Edge, which have now cascaded into our 2020 goals.  As we set to kick off our NXT 30, we look forward to expanding our current geographic markets, adding new product offerings with a variety of delivery modalities to provide progressive and innovative solutions that are in line with our clients’ evolving needs and continue to build additional strategic partnerships.

What about you? What’s your strategy and goals for your NEXT?

If you want some support with goal setting or strategic planning, visit us at or call (858) 454-6540.