Alice asked, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.“
Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

In order to move forward, we have to know the way. We need to know where we want to end up―we need a goal.

A good goal generates excitement. It’s personally meaningful and compels action. It’s got a due date and clear success criteria.

Visualizing our goal lets us see the way forward―it lights a path. 

But just having a good goal isn’t enough. A goal without an effective system (routine) is a recipe for fatigue, frustration, and ultimately, failure. It’s basically a pipe dream.

A goal gives us focus. A system gives us the means.

Systems keep us moving forward, through setbacks, and past milestones. Milestones are bite-sized goals that line the path to success.

Passing milestones feeds our fire and fortifies our resolve.

We can usually totter along with murky systems when it’s just us, but when growth demands more people, the likelihood of costly mistakes and misalignment skyrockets. Missteps, rework, and backlog (work debt) begin to mire our progress. Finished work trickles out the door. All of it covered with the owner’s fingerprints.

Dedicated, innovative people with a clear goal, but murky systems, can often improvise their way forward, but the cost is an inconsistent customer experience, steep learning curve, and a never-ending thunderstorm of surprises. These people’s stories are littered with heroic diving catches, fire drills, and burn-out. It’s a tragic waste of assets and energy. Just imagine what all that innovative, crisis-fighting energy could accomplish if it was laser-focus on creating systems that allow everyone to make & see progress, ensure quality, and mitigate risks. Effective systems that keep the business beelining skyward.

Clear goals and effective systems multiply individual effectiveness by keeping everyone on the same page, energized, and moving forward, together—generating blue-sky predictability and productivity.

Feature photo by Ron Gilbert on Flickr