5 Elements of Accurate Predictive Goal Attainment

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5 Elements of Accurate Predictive Goal Attainment

Written by: Nathan A. Ballou


I started to notice the correlation between shooting artillery and goal attainment. Slinging hundreds of pounds of high explosives accurately over thousands of meters directly relates to achieving your goals. As a Marine Artillery Operations Chief, my team and I would use five elements to achieve good effects on a target. Applying these five elements in a professional or personal setting will lead to meeting timelines and crushing your goals. It is my personal goal to share these steps to success with you. These five elements are:

  1. Accurate Battery Location – Where do you stand?
  2. Accurate Target Location – What do you want to achieve?
  3. Weapon and Ammunition Information – What makes you lethal?
  4. Meteorological Information – What are your outside influencers?
  5. Accurate Computational Procedures – Finalize the plan and execute.

Accurate Battery Location (What are your values?)

The first step in shooting artillery is establishing a known position and the foundation for all planning. When attaining location information for a cannon, it must be accurate down to the meter. Much like life, before taking steps towards a goal, conduct a critical self-assessment before any action. Take a step back and identify your values, clearly take note of what you stand for. Why are you driven to success, and how do you define it? As the father of software quality, Watts Humphrey, said, “If you don’t know where you are, a map won’t help.” Once you have confidence in your position, orient towards your intended target.

Accurate Target Location (What do you want to achieve?)

An artillery unit can receive target information once it has its accurate location. We call this a Call For Fire (CFF). It includes the who, where, what, and when of the target. Now that you have established where you stand, generate your CFF. Outline the who, where, what, and when of your goal.


  1. Who- Yourself or Your team.
  2. Where – Personal or Professional.
  3. What – New skill or Biggest earners.
  4. When – Next month or next quarter.

When an artillery unit is given a CFF, they must verify that their cannons can hit it. The concept is no different from you making sure that your goal is realistic. That is not to say a goal is without challenge. We should all strive to push the envelope.

Weapon and Ammunition Information (What makes you lethal?)

There are a plethora of cannons and projectile combinations in the artillery community. Each type has a specific unique ability it brings towards accomplishing the mission. It is impossible to get effects on a target in the artillery battery unless you know what weapon system you use and how to use it. Your weapon system and ammunition are your characteristics. What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you employ those to their maximum potential? For example, if you know you lack patience, use your impatience towards actioning tasks. This shift in mindset could quell your need for immediate results.

Meteorological Information (What are your outside influencers?)

Due to the distance of artillery targets, the weather has substantial effects on our accuracy. Though we cannot control the weather, we can account for and mitigate the risk it poses. On your path to your goal, you will have influences out of your control that will steer you off course. Make a list of the extrinsic factors that could affect you, and develop immediate actions for when they occur. Doing this will assist you in correcting your trajectory, allowing you to reach your goal still.

Accurate Computational Procedures (Finalize the plan and execute.)

We calculate the firing data solution as soon as the artillery battery accounts for the last four elements. To ensure accuracy, we “bump” or verify our solution. In your case, this translates to developing and briefing the plan. In doing so, be sure to include the other four elements simply and clearly. Seek out and be open to feedback, as it will be your bump process. It will expose any weaknesses or miscalculations that may be present.


It would be a lie to say firing data solutions are 100% accurate 100% of the time. Countless issues could arise. Therefore, it is insane not to provide you with corrective actions or troubleshooting steps if you fail to achieve the goal entirely.

  • Element 1
  1. Was your critical self-assessment accurate, or were you slightly further away than you thought?
  2. Were you oriented towards your goal?
  • Element 2
  1. Was the goal where you initially thought it was?
  2. Did your goal shift?
  3. Was there a sufficient amount of time to reach your goal before the deadline?
  • Element 3
  1. Was your charge (purpose) strong enough?
  2. Did your charge change or lose its effectiveness along the way?
  • Element 4
  1. Were the predicted influencers encountered along the way, or did they change?
  2. Were your immediate actions practical to mitigate predicted influencers?
  • Element 5
  1. Did the final plan include all 4 of the previous elements?
  2. Did you bump your plan by seeking out feedback?
  3. Were you honestly open to the feedback given?

Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” The essential troubleshooting step is to persevere. Recalculate, adjust, and fire!


It’s time. The high explosives are on their way to the target. As the operations chief, my stomach drops while I reflect. I can’t help but go back to the five elements, wondering if I overlooked an element through all the chaos. A radio transmission comes through, “good effects, target destroyed.” A wave of accomplishment flows over the team and me. As we catch our breath, we receive another CFF and get back to work. In life, we all experience doubt even though we have done everything right. However, you will meet your goals on time by utilizing the five elements of accurate predictive goal attainment. Now get out there and destroy your targets.