Step 3: Set Clear Goals

Look at what you’re dealing with these days: kaleidoscopic change…a frenzied, internet-driven upheaval of traditional organization models…freefloating confusion due to vague and constantly shifting priorities. No surprise that people are mentally scattered. Stressed. Uncentered. And no big mystery that your major challenge for now is attention management.

In today’s fuzzy, complex, out-of-focus world, the workforce desperately needs somebody to de-complicate the situation. Your job is to simplify. To bring clarity. To provide a sharply defined sense of direction. Without a clear sense of priorities and an acute aiming point that aligns people’s efforts, the organization will be plagued by attention deficit disorder. And performance always takes a beating when we lose concentration. As the saying goes, scarce resources gravitate toward clear goals. Since one of the scarcest resources is people’s attention, you’re responsible for staking out objectives that capture and hold it. And c’mon—you can’t get by with blurry and boring targets. Set sharpedged goals that glow in the dark. They should cut through the fog like a beacon, serving as a bright point of focus that brings coherence and purpose to your group. How many goals? Less is more. The fewer you can get by with, the better. Shoot for singleness of purpose—pinpoint focus. The idea is to attack on the narrowest front, penetrating confusion, complexity and change with a precise sense of what’s important for operating success. 

How much we can effectively disregard has become even more important than how much we can attend to and absorb. After all, most of the information that swirls around us these days is just static. Clutter and noise. An ever-growing amount of diddly stuff crowds our thinking, elbows its way into our mental space, tries to occupy our minds. We’re seduced by the sexy pull of that which is novel and provocative. We’re interrupted by the urgent but often trivial electronic messaging of email, cell phones, pagers, and such. We overdose on all the options, alternatives, or choices this magnificent age makes available to us. In this way the mental bandwidth of the organization becomes over-committed and clogged. Precious attention gets squandered on things that simply do not matter. But you can manage beyond the blur, past all the racket and pressure points that arise. You can help people figure out what they can safely ignore. The key is to narrow the organization’s ambitions and manage attention toward the passionate pursuit of results in a very slender space.

Tools and Articles:
Trust In The Power Of Future Pull

You can grow at a faster clip if you’ll put the future to work for you. Tomorrow is your ally.

The key is to let the future know specifically what you want from it. Start by coming up with a clear mental picture of your goal. Keep it alive in your mind. Visit it often in your imagination. The future will start organizing events to help bring about this thing you want.

Most people don’t appreciate how this technique can accelerate a person’s growth and accomplishments. Maybe it...

Use Intention To Shape Your Future

Uncertianty limits our visibility into what lies ahead.

But we shouldn’t presume that it forces the same limitations on our
personal intentions.

Too often our reasoning goes something like this: “Ummm, I can’t tell how this is going to turn out. There are so many unknowns. I’d better pull back, let things sort themselves out, before I set my mind on what I want to happen.” On the surface, this sort of thinking makes sense. But the logic is flawed, because it means...

The Power Of Short-Term Targets

Organizational change often means that you will have a loss of resources within your work group. You may lose some of your people, yet have as much or more work to do than before. Budget cuts may make it tougher to achieve what the company expects of you.

One way of maximizing effectiveness is to operate with clearly defined goals and objectives. That enables you to get the best mileage out of your people. An added benefit is that it helps your people get their minds off the past and...

Set Goals That Make You Stretch

The Mars Pathfinder project demonstrates the power of great expectations. This team of people set out to achieve spectacular results, and that very ambition called forth the creativity and commitment their goal required.

The most important aspect of how to begin deals with where you expect to end. So point yourself toward a dramatic destination. Wrap your efforts around a fine cause—some high challenge—knowing you’ll feel a sense of true achievement when you cross the finish line....

Provide A Clear Aiming Point

Resistance to change climbs fast when people can’t figure out where they’re headed. The more vague the destination, the fewer volunteers you’ll find eager to go there.

Keep in mind the fact that change, in general, causes some folks to lose their nerve. No reason why you should contribute to this problem. Since ambiguity leads to uncertainty, you should do what you can to give people a clear sense of direction.

If the organization is drifting and goals are blurry, employees...

Teams need to know where they’re going. The players perform best when they unite with a keen sense of mission, knowing they’re headed somewhere special. If the aiming point is clear and the “vision” is compelling, it draws the people together and pulls them forward.

The dream serves as magnetic north, swinging the needle of the group’s attention away from the demoralizing aspects of “now” to the inspiration of “what could be.” For teams mired in an unpleasing present, fearing a bleak...

Focus On Ends Rather Than Means

Adults rarely make quantum leaps, but small children make them all the time. You want to know why? The little ones focus on ends, rather than means.

Kids have no hang-up about technique. Being so young and inexperienced, they’re often practically devoid of “methodology.” But they’re openminded, goal-focused, and true believers in experimentation. They lock in mentally on their objective, and seem quite willing to let the goal determine the methodology. In fact,...

Cut Through The Blur Of Complexity And Change

Look at what you’re dealing with these days: kaleidoscopic change…a frenzied, internet-driven upheaval of traditional organization models…free-floating confusion due to vague and constantly shifting priorities. No surprise that people are mentally scattered. Stressed. Uncentered.

And no big mystery that your major challenge for now is attention management.

In today’s fuzzy, complex, out-of-focus world, the workforce desperately needs somebody to de-complicate the...