...with the status quo.”
It is the time of year when leaders evaluate the results of what has been a very challenging year. The purpose is to presumably create new goals to continue achieving desired results next year. Yet, no matter how many leaders I ask what their goal planning process looks like, the vast majority simply do not have one. The closest processes resemble an organizational to-do list with little or no context behind them. But is that enough? As the title quote from Hyrum W. Smith suggests, those goals must be strong enough to move to a desired future that is likely in conflict with the status quo.
The challenge is that merely setting goals is never enough in and by themselves to create the necessary level of planned conflict. We wrote about this idea two years ago on how an effective goal planning process is a great motivator for success! The component we want to focus on in this post is identifying the potential obstacles that might undermine successful goal achievement. In this video on goal planning, I draw on my own experience as a pilot creating flight plans when flying from one location to another location. Pilots must check all the potential obstacles such as weather, terrain and other air traffic to ensure a safe flight. So too must business leaders identify potential personal and organizational obstacles to overcome the status quo to ensure forward progress and achieving desired results!
Identifying the potential obstacles provides valuable information on the resources and level of effort to overcome them when they appear. An example at the organizational level is the force field analysis created by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s pictured below:
The driving forces identify why the goal is important to move forward while the restraining forces are the potential obstacles to achieving the goal. By identifying the potential obstacles up front, contingency solutions are put in place to overcome each potential obstacle.
So, what are the typical obstacles leaders face when defining and executing their goal planning process? The most common examples are physical and tangible such as time, money, human resources etc. They are easily observable and measurable thus receiving much of the focus. But what of the intangible and attitudinal obstacles? For example, If the only obstacle to creating organizational inclusion was tangible, we would be much further along in creating inclusive cultures. The hardest obstacles to overcoming the status quo are attitudinal and must be addressed in much the same process as the tangible obstacles. Attitudinal obstacles may be more difficult to define than their physical counterparts but defined they must be!
Proactively identifying potential obstacles along with their possible solutions and actions to overcome them is an integral part of an effective goal planning process. A leader only has to reflect on the last time they were blind-sided by an unexpected obstacle and the amount of time and energy it took to overcome it. Leaders conservatively spend between three to five times more time and energy reacting to an obstacle as opposed to executing a proactively planned course of action to overcome that same obstacle.
To continue to grow as individuals, teams and organizations, the status quo must be viewed as the enemy! Having the right tools to defeat an intended enemy is paramount to successfully defeating that enemy time and time again!
How will your goal planning process defeat the enemy of your success?
Thanks so much for your note. Glad it generated some new thinking as that is what's going to carry us through to next year and beyond.
Have a great Thanksgiving!