A focus on your goals is the problem!

When it comes to the successful delivery of a project you need to know the goal. That is true.

If you don’t know what you are aiming for how will you know when you are done?

This alone, however, is a common reason why people fail to deliver.

A singular focus on the goal, instead of the process to get there means that you have no plan.

I won’t argue the pros and cons of “manifesting” and “just believe and the universe will provide”.

What I will say is that if you are working to a timeframe my 25 years of experience in projects tell me that you need a plan to work to.

I have seen many intelligent and well meaning teams focus on a clearly defined benefit or deliverable. They spend days, weeks, even months, repeating the goal or even refining it with additional decimal places.

What makes the difference between those teams and the ones who actually get there is a focus on the process. Making sure that each step you take will actually help achieve the goal. This doesn’t happen by accident!

If you want to achieve $1M in savings, it won’t happen just by saying $1M in every team meeting. Making a list of the actions that you can take to make $1M is a good next step. Working through delivering those actions, and checking that each completed action gets you some savings is better again. In Program Management we often use a Benefits Logic Map with an actuals metric to help us with this step.

You can’t just go banking the planned benefits before you’ve actually done anything! (Although that seems the popular approach, it isn’t the best one!).

But what about SMART goals I hear you cry? Well, this relies upon a clear, meaningful and measurable process. The successful delivery of the goal most often comes from being able to describe the change in capability along with the resources and time required to deliver.

Keeping the end in mind is important, don’t get me wrong. The results focus, though, is not going to get you there. It is the process focus, and consistently checking that the process is taking you in the right direction that makes that result possible.

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Nathan Jones