A few years ago I read thought-provoking article written by James Clear on how we should shift our attention from goals and go towards building systems and a process. I found it very intriguing as most business and self-help books strongly focus on setting goals. While I believe that setting goals and project objectives are vital to success, I can still relate to some degree to his approach.
Daily actions are what makes the difference
What does focusing on process mean? It means that instead of focusing on losing 60 pounds in 5 months, you will need to focus on building habits and a daily system related to that goal. If I take this same example, it would be: replacing added sugar with cinnamon for breakfast, going out for a 20-minute walk every day, etc. For a job hunter, it could be going to networking events at least two times a week, engaging with one different person on LinkedIn and so on.
This process framework pivot on three main building blocks:
- Building habits
- Daily life choices
This approach allows us to enjoy less pressure, be more present and finally, to not wait until we achieve our goal to be happy or content with the situation.Marie Forleo, the host of MarieTv and CEO of B-school, had a dream of becoming a professional dancer and decided to take several dance classes on a weekly basis, practice and finally reached the top by being the first Nike Elite Trainer. This didn’t only require setting goals, but also daily actions, small steps that brought her to success. These daily decisions can also be seen as an actual ACTION PLAN.
Yes indeed, it all comes down to having a sort of a plan. Planning is the source of building a process and daily / weekly / regular steps that will lead an individual or even a company to success. Why does it work?
Because systems rely on:
- Smaller decisions / steps
- and ….
A clear vision …
Only focusing on details, and daily tasks may bring you or your group/company to achieve something you never thought of, however, not having a big picture, a clear vision, can set you in the wrong direction or strongly impede planning ability. Let’s say that you decided on contacting at least one person from your network every week. That is a great initiative but without a clear vision, you can’t know:
- Where should you find these new contacts?
- What should you write in your email?
- Regardless, who are the people you are targeting?
An excellent example of the power of vision is Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, one of China’s web giants. You can see in the video below filmed in 1999, that Jack Ma is in a small room with his team providing a sales pitch about his vision for his company …
The power of this sales pitch shows his enthusiasm and a clear vision of where he wants his company to be in 10 or 20 years. Well, it seems that it worked pretty well! Alibaba is now the biggest e-commerce group in China with a revenue of $3.7billion (March 2016).
Having a clear vision helps people to thrive in two ways:
- Providing enough motivation and desire to go forward
- Resulting in a higher level of persistence
- Necessary to define the why for employees / team thus engaging other stakeholders
How can we apply this way of setting goals and strategy in an organization?
The articles I found on systems instead of goals mainly focus on an individual’s goals. So I started wondering, what about applying this framework in a business context, company or a team?
In a project management context that could mean using an agile approach instead of other methods like Waterfall. The method Agile or Agile mindset stresses the importance of delivering a project step by step, through iterations, instead of doing it all at once. It promotes progress and change by engaging the stakeholder (client for example) throughout the project implementation.
For an online magazine, it could be posting at least ten posts every day on various subjects. After a few months, this will increase readership and better rank on Google.
Setting SMART goals that are solving a specific problem is still needed to create a clear vision Click To TweetTo conclude, setting goals is still needed to create a clear vision for ourselves and other stakeholders. These objectives should be SMART and have a purpose (a problem to solve).
A summary of the pros and cons of adopting this approach …
- Enjoying the road and the present moment while celebrating small successes
- Less pressure and stress for employees and stakeholders
- Personal or professional life
- Supports and facilitates progress tracking
- Failure doesn’t mean the end of the world – just need to build a new habit
- Must be combined with a bright, clear vision
- May cause a lack of focus regarding final goals and strategy
- Needs to be combined with a thorough plan to avoid missing deadlines
- May only work in selected areas and for some people