I often hear managers say ‘how did it happen, what caused it?’ when they face a problem, large or small.
These are very valid questions and, what they cause you and others to do is look at a very specific situation and dig into it until you can answer the question.
On the other hand, taking a goal setting approach can create a very different solution that may have a more systemic result.
Here’s an example, a system goes down which results in a particular part of the business not being able to progress their work. By asking questions like, how did it happen? allows you to look only at that very specific situation to understand what happened and how you can rectify it.
If you are on the receiving end of that question it can sometimes create a defensive reaction and I’ve know this to turn into trying to find out who is responsible.
Start with the end in mind
Whereas, if you take a goal setting approach the question you ask is very different – what’s the outcome we want instead? It get’s you thinking differently. So, you start with the end in mind and you come up with the outcome – the goal you’d like to see in the future.
It is still good to use the SMART acronym to help you define the outcome you want and here it is as a reminder:
Specific – be as specific as possible. Think about the standards you want and maybe how you want it to look like so that you know what good looks like.
Measurable – How will you measure it when you’ve got it? Is there a reduction in costs, and increase in productivity, and increase in customer satisfaction? Be clear about how you’ll measure your outcome.
Achievable – think of this as being more about is what I’m looking for possible. I have seen people have debates about whether something is achievable or not and this is often driven by individual mindsets, rather than reality.
Realistic – Do you believe you can make this happen?
Timebound – set a date by which it will be achieved and if necessary set some milestones.
Once you have been through this process look at how you can bring this about and take action.
Taking this approach is more likely to identify flaws in the system or process.
So next time you have a problem ask your self what outcome do you want instead?
A goal properly set is halfway reached.
Dawn Bentley is an Executive Coach who works with Leaders in business to deliver extraordinary results, through effective teams with ease and authenticity. She can be contacted at Dawn@aurora4success.co.uk