“The only context that matters for strategy now is the future context.” Dr Jason Fox
I love a good goal! No, I love a good priority which is what I have decided is a much more empowering term for goals. I like to know what my top priorities are and what I need to do to achieve them. I’ve been professionally brought up in the Corporate World and that’s what I know – goals (priorities and KPI’s).
However, I have been reading a book by Dr Jason Fox ‘How to Lead a Quest’ and I’ve got to tell you he took the air right out of my lungs at one point in the book (actually many as he has a very disruptive approach to leadership which is fascinating)! He suggested that having a clear goal for the future could be your ticket to irrelevance. Can you see why I gasped? I am super passionate about ensuring we as leaders are relevant in a rapidly changing marketplace and disrupting our thinking to try and ensure we are. But this suggestion by Dr Fox really got me curious.
After I had gotten over my shock, I went on to read that Dr Fox is suggesting this conventional wisdom isn’t the best approach for an environment that is experiencing constant and accelerating change. What Dr Fox suggests is we should be imagining many possible futures, deciding which is the most likely and then adopt our strategy accordingly. This put me at ease somewhat because I can see that I can still have priorities!
Dr Fox has a really good point and I do agree. I think long term planning and goal setting is a fruitless exercise now as we don’t know what will happen in the future and can really only afford to think short term. I do believe we can still have a vision for our businesses and self however it now needs to be more abstract than specific. We need to ensure we aren’t limiting ourselves to a market, a service or a product. We need to embrace this environment where industries are turned on their heads by the disruptors. And expect this is how business is now.
Thinking ahead now is more complicated than it once was. Wishing things were how they were five years ago is a waste of your precious time. Those that don’t adapt to change will become extinct – perhaps with the term ‘goal’!
So do I think goals will get you lost in irrelevance? I’m not one to sit on the fence so I’m going to say yes, if we continue to approach them the way we have in the past. I believe we must have clarity in our direction in order to move forward. If we don’t where are we going and is what we’re doing on ‘purpose’? However, we need to be smart, we need to be alert and educated about what’s happening in the marketplace, we need to be flexible and agile. We need to be crystal clear on our ‘why’ and the purpose for which we do what we do.
I’ve changed from goals to priorities to get me thinking differently but at this stage, I’ll still have my list of what I want to achieve but will be keeping an ear out and my head up to observe and hear what’s happening out there so I don’t get lost in irrelevance either!