Strategy: the difference between goal-getting and goal-doing

by Daniel Batten on February 14, 2010

There is more to goal-setting than setting a “goal-doing”.

If you are pushing in the wrong direction at the wrong time does it really matter whether you work 30 hours a week or 80 hours a week?

Imagine this scenario

Goal: to open a door

Your strategy: push it open.

Problem: the door opens inwards.

After you have been toiling away “doing” for some time, a well meaning outsider says “excuse me but have you ever thought that your strategy might not be the correct one – I know someone who is an expert at goal setting and strategy.”

You reply “Strategy? Goal setting? – I haven’t got time to do that stuff. Can’t you tell that I’m busy opening this door? Maybe after its opened I’ll think about it.”

Meanwhile the door is still not budging. This is obviously a tough project that requires more resources. You adjust your project plan, inform all key stakeholders of the impending delay, mitigate damage with your client and phone for reinforecments.

“Mike – bulldozer. What time can you get it here?   -OK – wait a minute – I promised my daughter we’d go out to the movies then – no no, it’s OK, I’ll take her tomorrow. I gotta get this door down first so I’m in a clear headspace first before I can relax and chill out with her anyway. She’ll understand.”

“The bulldozer is successful, you work overtime and clear up the mess and are about to go out with your daughter, but then you notice another opportunity to open another door. It’ll be quicker this time. It could be just the opportunity your company needs to finally break through and -”

You have probably never literally called in a bulldozer, but I’m sure that on many occassions, you were so stuck on “doing something” that you chose a strategy that was eventually effective but also far harder than it needed to be.

Maybe it was delivering a project without clarification of up-front requirements, because there “wasn’t enough time”.

Maybe it spending 10,000 hours developing a product, without taking 2 weeks to ask 10-30 people in your target market what they wanted.

Maybe it was getting an eventual sale, without having training the product-expert how to do “authentic selling”.

Truly one of the biggest impediments to achieving is the notion that goal-setting needs lots of “doing”.

If your goal is to do “whatever it takes”, and you are willing to sacrifice your piece-of-mind, your efficient use of time and your relationships with those around you, then you will probably get your goal.

If your goal is to drive from Auckland to Wellington and your strategy is to drive your tractor, then you will end up making it there. And when you get there you can even become a speaker and author on “how I reached Wellington against all the odds” – it’s a great dramatic read – but there are simpler, less stressful ways to “do something”.

Base your business on the principle of

“ready, aim, fire”

rather than

“ready … fire … whoops … aim … re-load … re-fire.”

This is the difference between “goal-doing” and “goal getting”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andrew February 22, 2010 at 9:26 am

Great article Daniel,
you make some excellent points on goals at all costs. To often we are consumed by the destination that we forget the journey. And of course, the world needs a deal more great coaching!


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