To Score, Shoot at an Open Goal

March 3, 2019

It's the time of year when many organisations take stock of the twelve months that have passed and look ahead to the next. Budgets are set, objectives distributed, and reviews take place in all directions - upwards, downwards and even 360 degrees around.

 

In this month's featured video, venture capitalist John Doerr discusses how to set and measure goals, and how the "Why" is as important as the "What":

When anyone (including ourselves at Beyond the Board) draws analogies between games and business, they almost invariably include the distinction between strategy - long term goals and plans - and tactics - short term execution. In both business and gaming, the boundary between the two is very blurred on close inspection, but it remains a valuable concept. These match up with the "What" and the "How" of John's talk.

 

It is very easy to miss, however, that in a game the players have the choice to change the rules, or not to play at all. If there is no answer, or a dishonest answer, to "Why", no-one will care about strategy or tactics. At best the game becomes an empty way to fill dead time. In the same way, both grand plans and detailed targets will fail to motivate staff and colleagues if there is no "Why" for them beyond not-getting-fired.

 

In a previous blog post I argued that a certain sort of laziness can be a potent force for change and improvement. It usually flies under the radar because it's a laziness that paradoxically gets results, and when reviewing performance it is very tempting to concentrate only on that which is not delivering the outcomes we want. Conversely, when someone is missing the short term objectives we set them, we are tempted to class them as "lazy" or "slow". To be clear, this may be the case - or we may be committing the fundamental attribution error: to assume a behaviour is a trait rather than a consequence. If we cannot set out our "Why" in a way that is open, and that engages what matters to them, can we really be surprised if they lack motivation - if they refuse to play our game?

We discuss some of the routes to "Why" and the pitfalls along the way in our "Illusions of Quality" short talk - take it as part of our Taster Menus or if you are a new customer, as your complimentary first session.

 

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