I was recently browsing through business publications and saw an article covering the concept of driving systems and processes vs. simply setting goals.
It reminded me of something I learned early in my career that I shared with students and I dug up the quote:
“We cannot exactly replicate achieving a goal. We can absolutely replicate executing our systems and processes and consistently improve them in the Japanese spirit of kaizen. The evidence that this is working is the attainment of new performances that exceed old performances. Yes the goal was to exceed those old performances, but we will seldom get there by merely setting a goal and getting emotionally pumped up about it. We get there because our systems and processes improve over time and we consistently expand the number of people who are experts at executing those systems and processes. If we achieve that, then achieving new performances takes care of itself, in fact we cannot help but exceed the old performances.”
My summation was by no means groundbreaking. It is been conceptually proclaimed by many people in many different ways over the years. But I was struck by the clarity with which I had summed it up. Blessed to have good mentors around me, I listened carefully to those whose proof of performance over time strongly suggested I lend an ear to their words.
I wasn’t born with this knowledge, I am only passing it on.