Tag Archives: Goal setting

Three Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Productivity

Clock-StressPeter Drucker was  consulting for a CEO of a major bank in US.  For every meeting the  CEO used to assign Peter a time slot of 90 minutes. A highly effective person, the CEO was delivering  consistent results for his bank year-on-year. During the  one-and-half hour meeting the CEO refrained from taking any telephone calls Continue reading

Achieving expertise also depends on the domain!

Why is there a gap between efforts executives put and the results they get? The linkage between the improvement in one’s skills vis-à-vis the efforts put can be termed as structure of growth.

Last two weeks I was conducting training programs on Effective Value Selling for Capital Equipments which were in the price range of Rs. 50 L to Rs. 1crore.( Approx. $100k-200K) Selling of CNC machines involves considerable technical complexity and the sales engineers need to understand the customer behaviour in a sensitive manner. For most of the participants, I perceived a huge gap between the job role and the skill set possessed.

Remember the adage, practise makes a man perfect. Generally it is assumed that the improvement of a skill is directly proportional to the efforts, time spent and the intelligence of a person which is partially true. But it also depends on the domain in which one is working. Most of the domains may have the following types of growth structure. There are a number of growth structures but the major ones are: Logarithmic, Exponential and Sinusoidal ( Please refer figure: growth figures      )

  1. Logarithmic Growth: Here one tends to get visible results during the initial phases of activity. But the growth becomes harder as you go along. For example, in athletics running 100 metres in 14-15 seconds looks an achievable task for a beginner. Chopping off the next second or two is relatively easy. But to break the 10 second barrier only athletes at international level can achieve. One needs to be an Usain Bolt to reach a figure of 9.79 seconds where the runner up can be behind by just hundredth of a second. Same is true in cricket where a cricketer can scores a century on debut and become a celebrity but then it is only people like Sachin Tendulkar who go on reinventing their styles and techniques even after reaching a few milestones.

The first phase of logarithmic growth is steep and success comes easily. The second phase is like a plateau where the rate of growth slows down considerably. (refer figure a. logarithmic growth)

Thanks partly to media hype, you see such growth in music ( with pop stars, Little Champs in Saregamapa shows etc.) and in sports like IPL Cricket. With some talent and average efforts some people in such domain, become instant celebrities overnight. The real challenge is in phase 2 where you need to maintain your disciplined habits. You need to move away from your regular routine and break away from those habits. You can even develop a technique which may be beyond the textbook. Tiger Woods reinvented his swing in the second phase.

  1. Exponential Growth: There are some fields where one needs to put lot of hard work initially and the results will not be visible for considerable time. Mastering a field like Physics, computer science, music takes a hell lot of time. In the HBR Article titled The Making of an Expert by Anders Ericsson, Michel Pretula and Edward Cokely, the authors propose that to master a particular field it takes around 10,000 hours of systematic efforts. The results may not be visible initially so one needs to have lot of patience (refer figure b. phase 1 of exponential growth ). And one day, a miracle happens. Suddenly things fall in place and what you were struggling all these days and years, the obvious answers are revealed. The pieces of jigsaw puzzle get into the right place. Kekule developed the model of Benzene ring in his dreams by correlating a serpent swallowing his own tail, Einstein worked on his special theory of relativity for a number of years as a clerk in a Swiss patent office. Marie Curie had to process tonnes of pitchblende in inclement weather and in an ordinary laboratory for a number of years before extracting a few milligrams of radium. Science whether applied or pure is a typical example where the structure of growth is exponential. Einstein, Kekule or Marie Curie did not get the success overnight but had enough perseverance to sustain the phase 1
  1. Sinusoidal Growth: Fields like spiritual growth are neither exponential nor logarithmic. You do not start your spiritual journey as your hobby or for earning a livelihood/achieving fame. ( with the exception of fake gurus,babas & bapus ) It only comes out of genuine suffering or existential dilemmas of life. ( Refer figure c. Sinusoidal Growth ) It is said if you have not suffered a breakdown you may not get a breakthrough. Initially you start from a negative state, you may get results for some time, again you fall down and each time you raise the bar. Siddharth Gautam had to experiment with different techniques that were available in his time from the age of 30, and by 36 he realized chasing the techniques itself was a mirage and he was enlightened to realize his Buddha nature.

Each field may have either one or combination of the above growth structures. So to be an expert and an authority in a specific domain, it is not only important what traits you carry ( which is your DNA ) but to see whether there is a synergy between your traits and structure of your domain.

Remember, Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar had similar talent. Sachin could sustain in the phase 2 of logarithmic growth; Kambli could not.

As a professional remember, a formal education at the university does you no harm, provided you start learning there afterwards. It is simply beyond attending a 2-day company sponsored training program.

Is Goal Setting useful All the Time?

Who has  not heard of Goal Setting particularly the SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Attainable , Realistic and Time Bound) Many of us might have attended training programs on Goal setting , but then in spite of all the hype and the hoopla why does it become a such a stressor?  In spite of all the SMART goals,  why do 95% people give up on the new year resolutions? I have even heard some executives saying that the only resolution they make is not to have a resolution.

The positive side of goal setting is it gives you a sense of direction. But what is the flip side? The Yale study of Goals is cited by Brian Tracey and also renowned magazines like Psychological Foundations of success. The 1953 batch of graduates were asked about their goals for the future. Only 3% of the graduates had a clear set of well-written goals.It was like getting a specific salary, a designation, a big villa etc. 

It seems 10 years down the line the researchers observed that 3% who had a clear focus had  amassed more wealth than the 97% who had no clear goals. This study was often cited by management gurus like Brian Tracey, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins on which they make millions of dollars with their motivational seminars. The self-help industry has been thriving on Goal Setting for so many years.

A journalist from Fast Company, a technology magazine tried to trace the origins of the Yale Study of Goals and he realized no academic journal was ever cited for the Yale Study. When the motivational gurus were approached,  Brian Tracey pointed out fingers to Zig Ziglar who in turn pointed to Tony Robbins who again referred to Brian Tracey. ( ref: If Your Goal Is a success Don’t Consult These Gurus: fast Company 18 December 2007)

Oliver Burkeman in his book The Antidote – happiness for People who Don’t Stand Positive Thinking called on Beverley Waters the archivist at the Yale school who said that such study was never carried out.

Goal Setting as a concept was introduced by Gary Latham & Edwin A Locke who between them have written 20 books on the motivational aspects of life.

One of side-effects of Goal setting, particularly in corporate settings is managers tend to lie about their achievements. I remember while working for my previous company, my Divisional Manager whose initials were PR said during the annual Sales Conference: In the next five years we are going to be a Rs 100 core company. We had barely touched Rs 2 crores in 1987 then. Within 6 months PR had put in his papers and moved to greener pastures.

Two years later another Sr.Manager called NV made inflated invoicing  where the goods were shipped from the Mysore factory but were never despatched to the dealers. But the order booking was shown so as to meet the targets. He barely escaped getting sacked. ( Company A).

Another person, a Sr. manager  AGI used to narrate how on 31st March vendors used to supply empty boxes ( in place of Complete instruments) to the customers carry out the invoicing then recall the boxes for repairs and then supply the products. ( Company B)

Both the companies have closed down their operations by 1995. Most of them attended seminars on Goal Setting particularly the SMART ones.