Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Goal Setting and Purpose Stating

"The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move." – John Wooden

I’ve been thinking about goal setting a great deal lately. Much of it has to do with the fact that the Winter Olympics - which features some of my all time favorite sporting events - are fast approaching. And when I see and hear about the individuals who are about to perform on this grand stage of the sporting world, it never ceases to amaze me when I think about the planning, training, sacrifice, and goal setting it took them to get to the elite level of Olympic athlete.

I have also been thinking about goal setting in terms of organizations that provide services for individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities. I get the sense that sometimes we (and I use the collective term “we” because I want to make sure my organization, and me, are included in this gentle critique) are often frightened away from setting goals, because we think we will be seen as failures if we don’t meet set goals.

Instead, we often wait for events to dictate how we act, and react, to situations around us. I know that has been the case here at Imagine!, and I’d even go so far to say we have been pretty successful taking this approach.

Times are different now, however, and I don’t think we can afford to wait and see what happens before we act anymore. If we do that, we may soon find there is nothing left to act upon.

Instead, I think it is time we all became a little more comfortable with the idea of setting goals. Become more comfortable with forecasting what might happen and take appropriate steps beforehand to improve the likelihood of positive outcomes and mitigate the possibility of negative outcomes.

At Imagine!, we have been increasing our efforts to plan, forecast, and set goals. We have a Strategic Planning Team that meets quarterly, and one of the most recent efforts of the team, involving all team members, has been to create departmental purpose statements to help guide our decision making process moving forward.

The philosophy behind these purpose statements is fairly simple. Each person at Imagine! is hired to perform a task. We want to connect our staff members with one another, to our consumers, families and stakeholders on an emotional level. Each staff member can be held accountable for ensuring delivery on the “purpose” every day. All tasks are secondary to the purpose. Process, policy and procedure must support the delivery of the purpose as well as task competency. Tasks are what we are paid to do – purpose is why we are here – and why we do it as Imagine!.

Bringing this back to my original point, the purpose statements help bring clarity in goal setting. Furthermore, it lessens the concern about failing to meet a goal. We want to hold our employees accountable to our purpose, and if a goal is set that meets our purpose but doesn’t pan out in the end, well, then, we learn our lessons and move on. Our hope is that this will encourage more creative thinking when setting goals, and that will result in a workforce who will be unafraid to take a position on who we want to be as an organization in the future and take the appropriate steps to get there. We’re not there yet, but I feel good about the direction we’re heading.

Then again, what do I know?

No comments:

Post a Comment