Happy New Year! Ring in the systems to meet your goals.
Posted on: 02 January '14
2014 has arrived and here’s wishing you a very successful and wonderful year. Time really flies. I hope this year we can all catch a breath and enjoy the scenery as we whiz along.
Resolutions are the “in-thing” at this time of the year. Here’s to grit and hope! However, statistics show that only 75% of the personal resolutions will endure beyond the first week. How can we be confident of achieving the goals we set, especially the business ones?
Today I want to talk about the goals we set and the systems we use to achieve them. The common advice is to set specific goals, ensure they are realistic, have someone hold you accountable and plan to reward yourself as you go along.
This is definitely great advice, and helps set the right goals in the right way, I think the essence is in setting the right goals and in how we plan to execute towards our goals. That’s where systems come into play. A system describes “how” you will meet your goal with well-defined milestones, contingencies and measurements of success, much like how a project plan is developed. In fact, systems are a requirement for success, whether it is marketing, IT strategy, IT delivery, product management, sales or just about any type of goal…even losing weight or becoming a better person. (These account for 75% of the personal goals.)
How do we define a good system? A good system is created when we develop the ability to properly think “right to left”. Simply speaking, that means we think of where we want to be, and then systematically plan what we will need to do to get there.
Here’s my take on successful “right to left” thinking for our 2014 aspirations.
- Follow possibilities led goal setting. Don’t put constraints on end goals and aspirations without exhausting your options first and thinking about the systems you need to meet the goals. Examples of such hasty goal setting includes: I will lose 20 pounds in 3 months, I will grow as fast as the competition or I will help generate 3 sales leads per month. That kind of thinking develops the wrong system, one that fails because it aspires to deliver constrained results. It’s not based on an exploration of possibilities, development of options and outlining of strategies & resources to achieve what you really want. By all means, set realistic goals, but not before you have explored the feasibility of your true ambitions. It’s also true that in a professional environment, this kind of goal setting must be collaborative because of the inter-dependencies. Make an effort to strive for the collaboration, because constraint led goal setting without analysis of options implies that you have already accepted that you cannot achieve what you really want to. In other words, you lost before you even began.
- The second important factor to enable right to left thinking is to clearly define how the current and future states will meet. What will I acquire or do to meet my goal? One of my clients called this type of thinking as “machine thinking”? It meant that unless the “method” to achieve the goal is defined, the goals are invalid. We may achieve our goals, but if they were not achieved using the defined machine, not only is credit withheld, but people are held accountable for this failure. Machines preclude serendipity. Don’t leave gaps in your machines either. Saying that the experts will figure out how to meet the goals you defined is a gap in your machine. Just as your safety on the road is your own responsibility, the method to achieve your goals is your calling. As you analyze your goals, plug the gaps in your systems and develop the strength to clearly attribute success to the right reasons. That’s true for all goals. So as you define that 20 pound weight loss target, support it by a system that taking the morning stairs to work instead of taking the elevator. And as you define the goal to be more organized, start creating a system to put all your to-do tasks in your outlook calendar to block the required time. It’ll be a good start.
Good luck for 2014. Reach out, follow your dreams and make them come true by defining the right systems to meet the right goals. I am cheering for you!