POPin Blog

On Setting Goals

It’s Q2. Yes. Q2 already. Despite the risk of sounding like your grandparents, it moves fast doesn’t it? Here we are at the start of another quarter of a new year. Some of you may take this time (it’s springtime, afterall) to reexamine your 2015 goals and evaluate how you are progressing. For others….well, there are many who just avoid the whole idea of goal setting. In fact, despite the popularity of goal setting, there’s an entirely different philosophy arguing the opposite. Aubrey Daniels, in his book, Oops! 13 Management Practices That Waste Time And Money, argues that stretch goals are an ineffective management practice. Daniels cites a study that shows when individuals repeatedly fail to reach stretch goals, their performance declines. Ouch. In his article, “Small Wins” psychologist Karl Weick argued that people often become overwhelmed and discouraged when faced with massive and complex problems. He advocated recasting larger problems into smaller, tractable challenges that produce visible results, and maintained that the strategy of “small wins” can often generate more action and more complete solutions to major problems because it enables people to make slow, steady progress. Ever wonder why people will so often write down an item they’ve already completed on their to-do-list? It’s so that they can have the satisfaction of immediately crossing it off and experiencing the sense of progress. In their recent book, The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer build on the same argument and clearly demonstrate how even the smallest, most mundane steps forward — for example, achieving clear consensus in a meeting — can motivate and inspire workers. That’s all well and good. But really, isn’t that what most organizations do anyway? Painfully slow and with ho-hum success? If you’re a faithful reader, then by now you know that we’re not about “baby steps” (i.e. incremental thinking). We’re not big on taking the average path, the familiar route or the easy way up. We’re far more interested in ‘starting a riot’ and creating big changes. And our clients agree. They know firsthand that the most important aspect of our PoPin session is not just noting the group’s input but actually taking action on those items voted to the top. So think about it….the process is really about crowdsourcing your goals. With those goals come definitive action plans and that puts your team in an ideal situation to achieve them. Goals realized, check. Performance enhanced and increased. Check check. And don’t we all love crossing things off our list?