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Monday, January 23, 2012

Goal Setting- Diminishing Returns


In my last post, I talked about the importance of goal commitment when setting goals for yourself and/or those you lead. 

Today, I want to discuss the law of diminishing returns and how it relates to goal setting.   I have honestly thought about dozen of different things that I want to focus on for the New Year, have you? The law of diminishing returns tells us that the more goals we set, the less likely we are to achieve them.  One goal distracts from another, leaving us less likely to accomplish anything.  

From a personal perspective, one way to avoid this is to have a mission statement (see the January 2nd post) and make sure that any goal you set is related to that purpose.  Another way is to answer the two questions that Stephen Covey advocates for asking in his chapter on “Principles of Personal Management” in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  They are:
Question 1: “What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?
Question 2: What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?” (pp 146)

These can be very simple things.  The key is, there are only two actions or goals and they are done regularly (see last week's post on changing behaviors to create habits and goal commitment).

From a leadership perspective, the law of diminishing returns tells us, keep it simple.  Too many goals tell those we lead that nothing really is important (and we tell ourselves this when we set too many for ourselves).   I recently heard a Facility Manager in a meeting say that he had three things he focuses on and measures relentlessly (based on lean principles) with his team of over 700 people.   He said he never leaves a meeting with anyone without focusing on those three key goals.  

Nothing gives us all ADD more than too many priorities.  Have you experienced ADD, and therefore diminished results, because of too many goals or priorities?

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