Goals & Actions

How to establish and track Goals & Actions successfully

How to track Goals & Actions successfully

Losing direction and focus for your startup? And at the same time being overwhelmed with so many urgent issues popping up constantly? Defining goals and actions is the first step in the right direction. Learn how to succeed by keeping track of them and updating them on a regular basis.

In the very early phase of your startup everything is exciting because you start working on the implementation of your vision and you go along with your work as everything falls into its place. The more your startup grows the more people will work together and the more complex your projects will become. Losing orientation and always going after the next urgent issue instead of pursuing important opportunities and challenges will become increasingly more likely to happen. So it is important to counter this trend by setting goals and actions across teams and projects. They provide your startup with a general focus and maintain the structure and values of your startup. They define what is important and which emergencies can be postponed so that you are still pursuing your overall aims and not getting distracted by random ‘emergencies’. Not only is it important that you establish goals and actions but also that you include your whole team in the process of defining them. Looking back together at the last year, last half year or quarter year will provide you with valuable insights of what went well and what did not go well. As a result you can translate this feedback into your goals actions to make the opinions of your team members visible.
To facilitate the process of becoming a startup driven by importance instead of urgency, I created the Goals & Actions Tomatosheet.

The Goals & Actions Tomatosheet is an Excel Spreadsheet which provides you with a pre-defined structure of how to track your goals and actions. Only if complemented with the right approach your startup will get the most out of it.

The Goals & Actions Tomatosheet
helps you to

Purpose of goals and actions

Providing a guideline.

Goals and actions are a crucial complement to your project plan. Rather than mapping specific projects they give an overall impression of what the whole startup is working towards and what it is guided by across teams and projects. This way teams keep the overview of the general direction of the startup and they are not only working in their own ‘backyard’.

Removing potential obstacles and disagreements.

Goals and actions should be defined and supported by (ideally) all team members removing potential obstacles and disagreements from the beginning. Including the needs and concerns of your employees will increase the acceptance of the goals and actions since the opinions of your team members are considered and taken seriously.

Which goals & actions are important?

Before writing down your goals and actions in the Tomatosheet it is crucial to figure out which goals and actions are actually important making your time management more effective. You will end the hassle of only reacting to urgent situations neglecting your important goals and actions. But you will actually start to be your own boss including urgent circumstances in your set of important goals and actions.

  • The Eisenhower principle helps you categorise your goals and actions in two dimensions: importance and urgency.
  • This kind of categorisation can be used for the whole startup, on a team basis or for individual team members who want to make the most out of their working hours. It can be applied to goals and actions respectively.

Their combinations form the following matrix:

The Eisenhower matrix is used the following way:
Your aim is to switch from urgent goals and actions including important and not important ones (in red), to important goals and actions including urgent and not urgent ones (in green).

  • First, you note down the goals/actions for each category.
  • The category ‘important/urgent’ remains while the category ‘not important/urgent’ switches to ‘important/not urgent’. This means that the first category should be regarded as a priority and be carried out first.
  • ‘Not important/urgent’ should be dropped by delegating these goals and actions to an external entity of your startup, another project team or another team member. Another option is to give your advice to somebody else how to carry out this action so you do not have to spend too much time on it.
  • For the goals and actions in the new category ‘important/not urgent’ you need to take the time and schedule for them a specific time so you do not fall back into the pattern of only taking care of the urgent goals and actions.
  • The goals and actions in the category ‘not important/not urgent’ shall be deleted since they do not have value for your startup.

With the Eisenhower principle you can sort out the goals and actions which are actually not important and not urgent before writing them down in your Tomatosheet. The not important but urgent ones should not appear in your plan but be on your todo list to be delegated.

How to approach this Tomatosheet

Goals without actions are meaningless because you cannot fulfill them. You need to set your goals and define the actions you will take to reach your goals. If all actions whose aim it is to reach that one goal are done, then you fulfilled your goal. Let’s see in what way your goals and actions should be determined.

Participatory Process.

Including opinions of team members is crucial for the definition of your goals and actions. Get feedback from employees when reviewing the last year, the last half year or quartal of what went well and what did not go well. Either the feedback at this review is enough or you complement it with a written employee survey in which they can give you more detailed feedback. Translating this feedback into goals and actions will make it visible that you take the opinion of your team member seriously.
Once you have collected potential goals and actions you should differentiate between important and urgent ones, between effective and distracting ones (as explained based on the Eisenhower principle).

No step-by-step instructions.

This Tomatosheet should in the first place be used to provide an overview of goals and actions ACROSS teams and projects. Your goals and actions should be defined in general for the whole startup and not be broken down into step by step instructions. This is why it is important to define 5-8 goals with maximum 10 actions per goal and to make sure that the front part of this Tomatosheet fits on one screen page.

Monthly review and update.

At the beginning of each month, this Tomatosheet must be reviewed and updated for the last month. As you are tracking your actions with this Tomatosheet it is crucial to fill in the progress of the actions by the beginning of each month for the last month. The progress can easily be estimated by asking the responsible persons for the actions. This monthly review also serves to add or delete goals and actions. It can be that you notice that some goals and/or actions are not necessary or that you need to shift their timing.

The basics

To keep the overview in this Tomatosheet, define 5-8 goals and for each goal 5-10 actions contributing to fulfill the goal. If you fill in more information on goals & actions this Tomatosheet loses its purpose of being clearly structured and providing a condensed overview of your goals and actions.

Adapt this Tomatosheet to your startups’ needs. It is the beauty of these Tomatosheets that you can make them your very own sheets by adapting the cells and their content to your own context. It’s a must if you want to get maximum benefit out of them!

  • For example, the planning duration in this template is designed for one year, from January until December. Of course you can start applying it later during the year. For example you start in May and plan until December or you make it for one full year. You adapt the month in row 5 to May until April. You can also use weeks as time intervals instead of months.
  • Further, you can add features to this Tomatosheet to get the most out of it for your startup. For example, you can colour the cells of the months in which you aim an action to be finished. So you are not only tracking its progress but also how it relates to your expected timing.

This Tomatosheet is divided into 2 parts:

  • front part: Needs your input. You fill in the required information for your startup. In columns B-D you need to fill in information on your goals and actions. In columns E-S you need to fill in details about your actions which are required for the calculations of the back part.
  • back part: Keeps track of the progress of your goals and actions based on the first part – you do not need to fill in anything in columns T-AG. This part facilitates the review of your goals by calculating the progress of your actions relatively to the rest of them.

How to use this tomatosheet

Front part

  • Column B: You fill in the number of the goal. This number can be for several rows the same because the goal often needs several actions to be accomplished and each row contains a different action. It is used to signal for the calculations which actions belong to the same goal.
  • Column C: Fill in your goals. Since you often need several actions to reach your goals the same goal is noted down in several rows.
  • Column D: Write down the actions which are required to fulfill your goals.
  • Column E: The section on the calculation details starts in this column. Firstly, you need to fill how much weight you attribute to this action contributing to the goal. The weight ranks from 1-3, with 1 ascribing a low weight and 3 a high weight.
  • Column F: You do not need to fill in any information here. The weights of the individual actions contributing to a specific goal are summed up.
  • Column G: In this column the responsible person for the action is determined. It is important that only one person is assigned.
  • Columns H-S: At the end of each month the responsible person estimates how much progress the action has made so far in percentage. Mostly this number will increase over the months (or stay constant) since you will continuously work on it and make progress. It can occur though that you discover that the action needs more work than you thought in the beginning and therefore its progress is not as advanced as you thought last month.

Back part

  • Column T: This column summarises with its formula the progress of the actions based on the columns recording their progress. If you want to have a quick overview of the progresses you check this column.
  • Columns U-AF: The formulas calculate how much progress the action has contributed so far to the overall progress of the goals depending on the weight of the action to reach the individual goals.
  • Column AG: This column summarises with its formula the progress of the actions depending on the calculated in columns U-AF. Cell AG 25 shows you the overall progress of all goals & actions. As soons as all actions are done and all goals are reached, this cell sums up to 100%.

What's next?

Use the Goals & Actions Tomatosheet to use your time effectively and make the work of your team focused. Start by

Introducing the G&A Tomatosheet in the next management team meeting.

Including feedback from all your team members of what is going well and what is not going well in your goals and actions.

Agreeing on a first date to set up this Tomatosheet.

Creating monthly recurring calendar invites at the beginning of each month to review and update your goals and actions.

Using this Tomatosheet and applying it the right way will guide your team successfully.

Complement your goals and actions with specifically planned projects which make up the core of your daily business. Use the Project Pipeline Tomatosheet to establish your project plan. Read here more about why this Tomatosheet is important as a complement to the Goals & Actions Tomatosheet and how to use it.

The 5 G&A Tomatosheet Principles

  • Define your goals and actions with your team.
  • Differentiate between important and urgent goals and actions.
  • Keep it general, no step by step instructions.
  • Use the G&A Tomatosheet as a guideline for your whole team.
  • Review and update the goals and actions at the beginning of each month for the last month.


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