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Goals? There’s a better way

“People with targets, and jobs dependent upon meeting them, will probably meet the targets, even if they have to destroy the enterprise to do it.” (W. Edwards Deming)

We spend the bulk of our adult life at work so I find it strange that we don’t consider each other adults right there.

We are being manipulated, the goals are broken down to us, the jobs are defined before we get there and we have to match the square hole, no matter what.

For me, this is not being adults. Being adults would be us working together bringing the best of us to the table with the interest of the common objective we were hired to do.

“Move from an “It’s just (simply) business” mindset to a “just (justice) business” mindset, wherein we fully recognize how compassion, integrity, responsiveness, and service lie at the heart of any high- functioning organization.” (Fred Kofman)

As the Deming quote says in the top, separate targets don’t work. No matter how well-intentioned, thought-through, they promote individual achievements (or in case of team targets, achievement no matter what happens in the other team).

A recent study from Harvard Business Review highlighted that senior managers also think they lose money with this approach:

Incentives like this are not efficient and this is not what we need as humans either. We all want to work for something that’s greater than us but represents our values. Usually, we search for it outside of work: in our family, in non-profits, in side-gigs. There’s nothing wrong with that. But why don’t we do this at the place that influences our life so much by the sheer amount of time we have to spend there?

Why can’t we fulfil our calling at work?

It’s not up to the individuals working there – it’s up to the leaders. If we agree what is the direction we are sailing towards, what is our common mission, and we let our team do their best to achieve it, they could go bigger than their individual achievements. They could find new routes, they could work in new teams, and they would find more satisfaction.

It’s a long road ahead. Some organisations need to find their true mission above “let’s make profit”. The good thing is that more and more work on it.

12 thoughts on “Goals? There’s a better way”

  1. Oh my goodness, yes!! Management Bullshit Bingo much! At the end of the day it’s all about money and egos.
    PS: look up “How to ride a dead Horse” 😉


  2. I have also often thought this way, but then I realized – very few employees have this level of independent thinking. Most simply like to be told what to do and go home with a paycheck at the end of the month. I used to work for an off-shore unit of Dell Tech Support earlier. We had weekly team meetings where our TL asked foe everyone’s inputs & feedbacks. Huge waste of time, in my opinion. Most just want to crib. Only complaints and no alternative solutions. It’s this whole mindset that is the culprit, that we are on two different sides, i.e. the management and the executives, and that there is an enemy line between us.

    Anyway, thanks for dropping by on my blog. Blogger recently turned off the name/URL feature, along with its Open ID feature. The only option left now is to turn on Anonymous comments, which, as you can guess, would attract a lot of unwanted comment spam.


    1. They might not have this thinking because they didn’t have a chance to practice it. But I agree, the division and the perceived conflict of interest needs a lot of honest work. Thank you!


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