Blog · Feb 1, 2017

A Crazy Goal for a Crazy World

January 2017 and it really does feel as though the world is a slightly different place from the one I knew at the beginning of 2016. Via Brexit and the US Presidential elections especially, we are all going through, to one degree or another, a period of change and reflection which is evoking mass feelings of concern, excitement and fear. For me it’s sometimes all three at the same time.

The implications of our evolving political landscape are that it creates real uncertainty. And that may be putting it mildly. Uncertainty often brings with it an accomplice named doubt, and when doubt becomes widespread there can be a real reluctance to shape new ambitions and commit to exciting new investments or goals. The temptation to ‘wait and see’, to edge your bets, is understandable – there is no rule book that can tell us what will happen next in the unique circumstances we find ourselves. There is a certain sense of that in the current business environment but will the safety-first approach prove to be the most effective tactic for the next few years? What else might be possible? Many of our clients are taking a bolder approach, and so are we.

Time to get ‘Crazy’ regardless

It was against this backdrop at the end of 2016 that the team at Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? decided that the time was right to review our own Crazy goal, first established back in 2013.

You may recall that the term ‘Crazy’ goal originally comes from Ben’s ambition in 1998, for his crew to win Gold in Sydney 2000. This goal, this overarching ambition, was clearly crazy. They had just failed to reach yet another regatta final and Ben himself had abject failures behind him from the Olympic Games at Atlanta in 1996 and Barcelona in 1992. Nonetheless the ambition to win gold, to record a world record time, became the beating heart of their Olympic journey for the next 2 years.

For our team although we were very conscious of the macro factors which may, or may not, shape future business success, there were several more impactful considerations which drove us to plough forward and redefine our overarching vision:

1) The existing goal was not passing the acid test- it was no longer driving our business or providing the unifying focus we craved.

2) We have grown significantly as a business, have more people, more activities, more clients. The original goal was not created or collaborated on by many of the new team members. The collective ownership and understanding of ‘what’s in it for me?’ was not as strong as we desired.

3) Perhaps most importantly of all we were determined to ‘control the controllables’. If President Trump creates a trade embargo with the UK there is nothing much we can do….but we can shape what we are doing, how we do it and the difference we can make.

For Ben and his Olympic crew controlling the controllables meant focussing on every aspect of their own performance, not worrying about what the other crews were doing and challenging themselves every day to make the boat go faster.And we wanted to make sure we were doing the same, pulling the most important levers that will drive our own performance and how we work together as a team.

And so, at Auriol Kensington Rowing Club we began our own journey to replicate the Olympic winning strategies we and our clients have adopted over the past 5 years, to create our new ‘Crazy’ goal. I will spare you the full detail of what we did and how we did it but you can hear much more in our clients’ own words about the process and the difference it has made in the Hiscox video opposite:

What I will say is the process was detailed, collaborative, fun, honest, challenging and at times frustrating…knowing what you want the goal to be but not how to exactly phrase it was the hardest part! But as a Crazy goal virgin I really loved how it challenged me to asses who we are, what motivates us, how we work together and how we measure our boats’ speed over the next couple of years. Clearly it wasn’t Ben’s first time doing this but he declared to me that final two sessions where the most enjoyable aspects of any work he has done since setting up Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? I’ll take that as a firm endorsement of what’s possible when a team comes together, gets to understands each other better and lays out a future that genuinely excites everyone.

What can a Crazy Goal Look like?

A million spoken words, discussions, interviews, exercises, juggling, brainstorming and glasses of wine later we had distilled down or thinking into a simple but we believe powerful goal for us to charge after in 2017:

To Make a Difference
To Smash Our Targets
To Enjoy Our Lives

For our team, its aspirational, its achievable and it allows us to hold a judging criteria to everything we do. If it isn’t helping us achieve one or all of these goals…. then why on earth are we doing it?

Most of all though, the collaboration in producing the goal, means that it resonates with everyone. We all own it and no matter what Teresa May negotiates in the next few months we are all in control of making it happen! Control the controllables and focus on performance is our defiant response.

And so what next? Well the establishment of the ‘Crazy’ goal (and the Concrete and Everyday Goals that sit beneath) is just the first part of the Crazy goal programme. The communication of the goal to internal and external stakeholders is complete and now the hard work starts to bring it to life, to use it as the fulcrum of our decision making and to guide our prioritisation and ways of working. We are measuring closely our performance against the goal and holding quarterly sessions to review progress, address any blockers and focus strongly on the drivers to our business success. It’s an approach that’s steeped in Olympic winning principles…. but can be applied by anyone. What’s stopping you?


Chris is the Commercial Director at Will It make The Boat Go Faster? He joined the team at the beginning of 2016, having spent 18 years in Financial Services (you get less for murder) and 4 years as the MD of a coaching consultancy. His ‘Crazy’ goal for 2017 is to run through the night for charity at Endure 24.

To read more about our ‘Crazy’ goal workshops, go to the following page

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