The Destructive Pursuit of Idealized Goals

Introduction (Via Questconsulting group)

Organizations set and pursue goals with foolish devotion. Despite a nearly universal belief in the power of goals, growing evidence reveals that goals also allow leaders to justify a course of action to its own detriment. Leaders and groups can easily become entranced by goals because they create the vision of a desired future. My research revealed that, under certain conditions, the normally useful process of goal setting also drives failure. Years of study have led me to one simple conclusion about goals: goals work best in conventional situations with few contingencies. Traditional approaches to goal setting break down in the face of the unexpected. When goals replace learning as a primary motivator, the destructive pursuit of goals begins to take form.

Purpose Of This Article (Via Questconsulting group):

This article describes the destructive pursuit of goals and points to three limitations that result from the goal-setting process. I outline six warning signs and five remedies for the destructive pursuit of goals. In a time when leadership advocates challenging goals, an understanding ofhowto avoid the destructive pursuit of goals becomes essential.

The Limits of Goals

1. Goals are difficult to abandon.

2. Goals can be used to justify action.

3. Goals have unintended consequences.

Warning Signs

1.  Narrowly Defined Goals – Priority is given almost exclusively, to one course of action.

2. Idealized Future – A romanticized picture is created of what the world will look like after the goal is achieved.

3. Goal-Driven Justification – Current actions are justified in terms of the future achievement of goals.

4. Public Expectation – Failure to accomplish goals would be met by public perception of failure.

5. Association of goal with destiny – Achieveing the goal is conceived in terms of rightfulness and destiny

6. Face saving behavior – If initial steps to achieve the goal are met with resistance or failure, the pursuit is again justified in terms of its future achievement.

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About Miguel Barbosa

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24. January 2010 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Wisdom Seeking | Leave a comment

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