Purpose Before Goal


“The secret of success is constancy of purpose.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.” W. Edwards Deming

Whether it is called vision, ambition, BHAG, goal, I have little

doubt that a compelling purpose is what separates excellent from good.

The business planning models I come across lean heavily on the what and how. Goals are defined and resources are allocated to the actions

necessary to achieve them. Nothing wrong with that! Execution in

business, and probably life, is an absolute necessity for success.

I would propose that what Disraeli and Demings are reminding us is that we must also answer why? in our planning. If we just define what and how, we are dependent upon the traditional carrot and stick approach to make sure people perform as needed to attain the goals. Exceed the goals and get acarrot (although a small one in this economy). Miss your goals and get whacked with the stick!

When there is a shared sense of purpose, people commit to a course of

action driven by intrinsic rewards. Doing work that matters and doing our

part to move our enterprise toward that compelling purpose provides an

internal reward easily exceeding the carrots. Chances are no one is going

to remember you hit your numbers in the winter of 2016. They will

remember what you did that molded where they work today.

Define the purpose audaciously. Communicate it dynamically. Then pursue it...constantly.


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