Goals are evil

Ok, Goals aren’t actually evil, but they do have the potential to be.

It’ s the time of year when people are making plans for the coming year. Old approaches are being evaluated, and new solutions are being formed. Goals are glue that holds everything together. Goals make the future seem static and a bit less uncertain. They pander to the human need for consistency and steadiness. They also tell people what to do, and provide structure for the work everyone does.

With no goals there is no measurement and no easy way to evaluate progress.

But, goals are like fireplaces. They add a dimension to life that nothing else does. A unique value that’s mostly worth the trouble. However, if you put a fireplace in every room, on every wall, you end up with far more heat than you wanted, a house full of smoke, and everyone running around looking for firewood.

So, as you set forth to plan for the coming year and begin developing goals and subgoals supporting those goals, etc, try this test: For each subgoal, ask yourself if there is any way that the subgoal can be achieved in a way that brings no benefit to the company or the higher level goals. If the answer is yes, ask yourself whether you really need a goal, or a guideline.

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