Ready For Take Off?
Imagine you are a commercial airline pilot responsible for the safe delivery of a plane full of passengers to their scheduled destination.
The successful outcome of your flight depends on precise completion of a series of proven, sequential processes. What happens when a sequence is violated? What if you changed the process and retracted the landing gear while the plane was still on the ground? You would need a very good reason to jeopardize the outcome of the flight while dropping a $45 million aircraft and 200 paying passengers onto the pavement. Why do I offer this seemly silly example? It’s because I routinely see businesses shortcut or abandon their critical processes in similar fashion. And then they wonder: What happened?
This blog’s name, Working SMART, is primarily derived from an acronym for the eight elements of the goal setting process that we use with our clients. It is outlined on the right.
Similar to preparing for airliner take-off, short cutting any single element of the goal setting process will also jeopardize your outcome. An often overlooked element is “Attainable.
Have you ever worked in an organization where the goals were viewed as unattainable?
- What happened to your commitment? What was the level of frustration?
- What happened to achievement?
Yet how often do we see unrealistic goals handed down from above without concern for buy-in?
So, how should we apply what we know about process and attainability to improve execution?
- Effective goal setting for your critical initiatives should be treated as a process. That is, a sequence of steps or events that produce a desired outcome. Ignoring any of the eight elements above will compromise your likelihood for achievement.
- To support the critical element of attainability, consider the words of Henry Ford: “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”
As a leader, ask yourself: How strong are your people’s beliefs in your desired outcomes? Who is responsible for instilling those beliefs? Neglecting to assure goal attainability can have the same grounding effect as retracting your landing gear prior to take-off.
When achievement wanes from lack of commitment, we can loose faith in the process and possibly dismiss goal setting as an unrealistic practice. We then throw the baby out with the bath water. How often do we then start some new initiative without understanding what went wrong with the old one?
Attainability is just one of eight critical elements for your pre-flight checklist for achievement. What short-cuts might you be taking any with the other seven criteria? How are your outcomes being affected?