logo GoalTrak Knowledge Base KB 015

 Category: Help

 Title: Solutions

 bulb  Summary: The chapter in "Make It Happen!" that discusses the fifth step in creating a goal: Solutions

 Product: GoalTrak™ EV, GoalTrak™ CV, GoalTrak™ PV  Version: All


GoalTrak EV - Solutions

Now, you are ready to begin the process of determining how you will meet your challenges or overcome your obstacles. This is really a SOLUTIONS' brainstorming session. Note that as you highlight each OBSTACLE, you have space for an unlimited number of solutions in the SOLUTIONS frame for each. We recommend at least three different SOLUTIONS to meet the challenge or overcome the obstacle listed in the box to the left. The intent here is not to list three steps in the same solution; rather, it is to look at the obstacle/challenge and creatively develop three different approaches, i.e., solutions.

It takes practice and discipline to identify different ways to solve the same problem. Our educational system taught us that there was one correct answer and many of us have not had the experience or encouragement to explore the vast number of alternatives that exist to solve a single problem. This is especially true in business. Too many business people think there is only one right way to do a particular job. In some cases that is true, but in a multitude of other situations it is not. We enthusiastically encourage you to challenge yourself here. Stretch yourself. Think of many ways to address your obstacles, not one. Enter SOLUTIONS that you're sure you would never use. They can serve to stimulate a different way of looking at the situation. You never know when and where you will need to make adjustments and shift gears on your journey. Build in some security and backstops by making yourself aware of different ways to solve a problem, in case your first choice goes sour and you need a replacement fast!

It is understandable that some of us resist facing all these obstacles! It can be frustrating to actually see in front of you what stands between you and your goal. On one of our consulting assignments, a group spent an hour identifying 21 obstacles and challenges for an organizational sales goal. To complete the next step, our client had 3 managers invest one hour each independently, and 2 hours as a group, to come up with three different solutions for each. They contributed five hours to the generation of solutions to their set of obstacles! The goal was deemed important enough to devote that much time and effort. (This is one way to involve your direct reports in the goal setting process. Many of the solutions identified converted easily to divisional or departmental goals. The managers who participated in the process were more committed to the implementation of the goals because they understood why they were needed and they had some control over what could be done to help achieve them.)

Using our example of "lack effective recruiting system", you might pick one of the following three solutions:
  • Use outside sales recruiting agency
  • Hire consultant to help create a system
  • Run ads and use current interviewing hiring process
The purpose of this Step is to enhance your skill in making decisions. Most of us develop patterns in our decision-making thought processes. We tend to repeat what we learned in the past. If it worked that way before, then it will work that way again, we think. Sometimes that solution works for a long time, and sometimes, especially in in recent times, things changed and what worked so well before doesn't work at all now. That's when we get stuck. We keep trying to use yesterday's solutions to solve today's problems and they just don't work.

Here is an opportunity to improve our results and expand our thinking. Several creativity studies indicate that the seventh, eighth, or ninth idea is often the best, but our attitudes toward the amount of time it takes to reach the ninth idea, and our reluctance to make changes often preclude this possibility. Push yourself a little and try to identify five, six or seven possibilities. Remember you are not making a choice yet. You are stretching your brain and expanding your skills in creative thinking. The Technology of Goal Setting is a framework within which you will find it is in your best interest to make some changes.

You may now be thinking that your goal setting job is done. You crystallized your thinking, wrote your goal statement to meet the five required criteria, identified the rewards and benefits for achievement of the goal, defined the obstacles and challenges that stand in your way, and you have come up with three possible solutions to overcome the obstacles and meet the challenges. You are not done yet! The next few steps are crucial to ensuring your success in the execution of your goal.

Now it is decision time. For each obstacle/challenge answer the question, "Which of these solutions is the best one to implement in order to overcome the obstacle or meet the challenge?". Consider timeliness, financial issues, mental and physical effort, needs of other people in your family or organization, and any other external or internal factors that make sense. For a personal goal, share it with your family. They have a stake in its achievement because the more of your personal excellence that is developed, the more of you they have. Take advantage of the openness of the minds of your children, if you have any. They generally are able to think outside of the “adult box” more easily than we can. If your organization is large enough, the implementation of these solutions will probably depend on many people spread through many departments. To enhance the level of commitment of these people, involve them in the process of choosing the solutions. They may even have better solutions than have already been suggested. This approach gives these people a stake in the outcomes.

Choose this solution carefully, as it is in essence, a mini-goal or project, perhaps one that will take research on your part. Or, if you've involved other people in your goal, they may be willing to take responsibility for implementing it. Someone in your family may be able to search the web for on-line networking courses, or available real estate for your new home. In an organizational setting, the chosen SOLUTION may be delegated to an individual or group that was not part of the original goal setting effort. It will be one of several solutions required to overcome a series of obstacles or meet many challenges that will lead you on the path to the achievement of your goal. Therefore, the solution needs to be written clearly and specifically enough to permit you and other individuals and groups to identify the actual steps to take in order to implement it.

After you have chosen the preferred solutions for all of the obstacles/challenges you need to determine when each of these solutions needs to be in place. In order to meet the target date stated in your goal, what is the date that you may practically implement your solutions so that the obstacles are overcome, and the challenges met?

Chance favors the prepared mind.

                                                                               -Louis Pasteur

In the SOLUTIONS Edit window you will find a SOLUTION EFFECTIVE DATE text field with the current date displayed. Click on the down arrow and a calendar displays. Choose your SOLUTION EFFECTIVE DATE here. Review these dates. Be sure that if the solutions are interdependent, the sequence of dates is appropriate for implementation. Compare these dates with the overall target date of the goal. Do they coincide? Do any changes to any of the dates for the solutions need to be made? You may find that you need to revise the target date of your goal, rather than some of the dates for the implementation of your solutions. If so, decide if that is acceptable. Now is the time to do it, rather than four months down the road when it may be too late. If it is not acceptable then you have another obstacle to list and another set of solutions to brainstorm in order to successfully attain your goal.

At this point, you may be wondering whether or not goal setting is worth all the effort. You've gotten this far without it, why bother? It's just more work and we all know that none of us need more work! There are very good reasons to put forth this effort. Here's one!

In 1989, we introduced the Technology/Art of Goal Setting to one of our mid-size clients providing meeting and travel services to businesses. At the time, they employed less than 100 people. They were doing OK, but not setting the world on fire as they wanted to.

Learning the discipline and distinctions of this methodology was challenging for everyone in the organization, especially for the leaders. They were accustomed to reacting, not responding, to market and customer needs. We met significant resistance at all levels in the organization. Only the commitment of ownership and the executive group allowed the process to continue.

Today, this company employees over 400 people, is consistently profitable and operates from a clearly articulated vision. It has made two acquisitions and is looking at more, sets annual operational goals at the organizational, divisional and departmental levels, and ties individual and work group performance reviews to measurable goal criteria. In preparation for writing this book we spoke to the President of this firm. He said goal setting "was responsible for starting our rocket ride to growth. It forced communication. Going through the pain was clearly worth it. We continue to use the system."

UPDATE: This firm was recently purchased by a much larger company in a related industry. One of the original owners went on to found a new business. The other owner left the business world and now spends her time with her family and is engaged in volunteer work. Goal Setting works!

Links to the chapters for each of the nine steps are listed in Related Topics below.

 Related Topics:
 Author: Richard Lewine
 Published: January 15, 2006

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