Friday, August 2, 2013

Your Goals - Part 2

So, how do you bring clarity to your search for your Goal?

As I mentioned earlier, you have to do a good deal of soul searching.  Begin by asking yourself this question: Where do I want to be in 20 years?  Take out a pad of paper, something you can burn later – no one sees this homework – and write down what you want – start by putting everything down, engage in some crass materialism: degrees, jobs, positions, income, numbers and types of cars, boats, airplanes, houses (size, location, size of yard, etc.), wife or husband, kids, dog, where you vacation, who your friends are, etc., etc., etc.

When you are done, fold it up, put it in your pocket and go for a walk.  When you are done with the walk – and are all alone, pull it out and take a look at it: is there anything you forgot?  Put it on the list.   Fold it up again and put it away.  Tomorrow, in a quiet moment, take a look at it. 

Now, is there anything on that list you can live without?  Seriously think about it: do you need this or that?  The car, the boat, the second (or third house)?  Is this or that position vital?  If you can live without it, strike it off.  Go through this process several times.  When you are done you will probably find you have a short list, and if you are like most people it will contain just one or two things: some sort of professional achievement (president of the bank, a master welder, a board certified surgeon, the mayor of the city, your own farm, etc.) and a personal item (happily married, some kids).

If you are already the head of your organization, and perhaps happily married, you may well find the list harder to create, and harder to edit.  But, do it anyway.  When you are finally finished, you should have one or two things listed that are your core goals. 

Now do the exact same thing for your organization.  This will be a bit more complicated.  First, you probably don’t exercise absolute authority over your organization, few do.  But, start with this guidance: what would it look like ‘if I were king?’  What would you want the organization to look like?  What do you want it to be in 10 or 20 years?  At the same time, do you even see yourself in the organization in 20 years?  If so, all well and good.  If not, is this about your legacy or is it about the needs of the organization and the community it supports?  This is when it gets hard.  And as you juggle those different perspectives, you need to consider when and under what conditions you would leave the organization.

After you have cycled through this process several times, you should now have two – short – lists: your personal goals, and your organizational goals.  You will need to do some more soul-searching at this point, particularly as the head of some organization: do your personal goals conflict with your organizational goals?  If, for example your number one personal goal is ‘spend more time with my wife and kids’ and the organizational goal includes growth and expansion – you may find you need to consider turning over management of the organization or in some other way changing your relationship with the company.

Having successfully done that, you now need to call in someone you trust, but someone who has some experience developing long-term plans.    But, be careful: there are a great many people who say they can do this, and who have drafted all sorts of plans.  Most plans are so poor that they actually represent a risk to the organization.  Each of the major car companies that self-destructed over the last 4 decades – world-wide – had strategic plans.  They had spent lots of money on those plans, but the plans were no good.  So spend some time and get the right planner.  One hint, many large management-consulting firms have a great deal of talent, but those aren’t the people who show up to help you construct your plan.

Show the planner the goals you have for your organization.  What he will (or should) then do is dissect those goals until he fully understands them, and then challenge you to further refine the goals.  His focus is to ensure that the goals are first: crystal clear; second, if there is more than one goal  (ideally there is only one), the goals are prioritized and do not conflict with or contradict each other; and third, that the goal (or goals) are as briefly stated as is possible without losing any clarity.  You should now argue with the strategic planner: you both need to make certain there is no confusion or ambiguity in this goal.  When you are both satisfied, you have your goal; you are ready to move forward.


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