Should goals be announced?
The topic of this buzz is challenging to me and I needed to pool my courage to write this buzz. The buzz goes against prevailing wisdom in that it promotes the idea of keeping goals hidden from employees and customers. So, why have SMART goals?
There are reasons for my advocacy. First, curiosity attracts people to find what is hidden from them. Second, it is impractical to set fixed goals in a business climate in which nothing is permanent, but change. This can be quite stressing for employees to see that they are drifting away from goals for reasons beyond their control. Not only the employees shall get stressed, but they may also develop the tendency to blame each other. Once a blaming culture develops the underlying values and assumptions of the organization shall deteriorate and its gluing culture shall lose its binding value. The complexity of life and businesses make the idea of having fixed goals simply an obsolete one. The prevalence of blame culture will lead to mistrust and loafing (Loafing is the tendency for individuals to lessen their effort when they are part of a group – also as the Ringelmann Effect). The organization shall end up in chaos.
I thank Donna-Luisa Eversley for reminding me of simple facts. She wrote that in "In my country there is a saying, “if you have cocoa in the sun, look out for rain” – this means if you have something to hide always be prepared to be discovered, thus being defensive". The rain will spoil the cocoa that has been put out in the sun to dry. Likewise; we spoil employees by trying to dry them by setting gals in rainy climates. Or, what we attempt is like yeast that turns sugars into alcohol in percentages greater than 15% and the yeast die.
Plants teach us some interesting lessons that foster curiosity to their advantage. Plants don't reveal their goals. They hide them to achieve them. The hidden goal of plants is to disperse their seed during certain times. How plants do that? You use a trick. They produce a gas that accelerates the ripening and hence the sweetness of their fruits. The gas turns the sour acids of the plants into sweet sugar. Animals that seek the ripened fruits also have the seeds of the plants stick to their bodies. They enjoy the fruit, but they also disperse the seeds of the host plant. The animals go for the fruits because they know "what is in it for me"? The plants know what the animal distributor searches for without telling the animals what their hidden goals are. The plants know how to sugar-coat their hidden goals.
Give people whether employees or customers what they want in which is embedded what you want- your goal.
Tomatoes offer a great example of what I mean. With roughly 400 acids, sugars and other volatile elements comprising the tomato it is not surprising that they can be a complex thing to harvest. The constantly varying ratios of these unstable compounds within the tomato dictate what the state of your final crop will be. The color change from green to red, for example, is indicative of a chemical transition within the fruit, as the acid balance moves from the weaker malic acid to the sharper citric acid concentration, and the dominant sugars are shifting from glucose to the sweeter fructose. Tomatoes make convertible sugars and we too need to make convertible sugary goals. The outside skins of tomatoes reflect their ripening and maturity. We need to see the matured skins of organizations and necessarily what goes inside. To show customers wrinkled skins of organization is simply a way to repel them. Setting goals in highly volatile business climates and defeating business cultures shall lead to the appearance of wrinkled skins that have been dried for too long by trying to achieve fixed goals.
We need different thinking to achieve the challenges of businesses and life. Like tomatoes have four hundred different chemicals in their bodies that change as the climate changes, so we too. We have four hundred variables at least and reaching a fixed outcome regardless of the climate will only spoil the culture of the businesses.We need to attract customers like plants attract their seed-dispersing animals (customers).