After writing recently about what Elon Musk has been able to achieve, I've been thinking a lot about blockers that cause people and companies to fall short of their goals.
This assumes that those goals have been clearly defined. That's often the first problem. Getting everyone in a company on the same page to achieve the same macro objective is the first step in the process. A great litmus test for this is to randomly stop an employee in the hallway and ask them what business they think the company is in. The more varied the answers, the less this first crucial step has been achieved.
And personally, many of us are not working towards a macro goal, but rather, we're just trudging along, one day at a time. I often see people working towards secondary, more immediate objectives without having a clearly defined macro goal. So although it sounds obvious: To achieve success, one first has to define what success means. Have you set macro goals for your life? Mine, in prioritized order, are:
Once your macro goals have been clearly defined, either on a personal or company level, the real hard work begins: Executing on those goals. As I recently wrote, ideas are like sperm -- while they're essential for producing value, they're pretty much useless on their own. So just like for ideas, having a framework for actually executing on macro goals is key to achieving them.
Fellow SETT blogger Sebastian Marshall recently shared with me just such a framework, which was developed by Ray Dalio in a long, dense and inspiring document called "Principles". If you really want to dig into your personal decision making process and how to optimize it for success, it's a must-read. Take your time getting through it, though, because it'll make your head hurt. Sebastian has been posting a "Dalio of the Week" on his blog to break the document up into smaller chunks, which is a great way to approach it.
Dalio lays out the following decision making matrix to define and execute on goals (p.36):
This framework is money. And it highlights something that gets in the way of achieving the flow: Sloppy Thinking. I've come to the conclusion that in order to even begin to achieve high levels of productivity and success, first thing one has to do is have an immediate, visceral and overpowering disdain for sloppy thinking.
Not tolerating sloppy thinking doesn't mean being an intolerant or abrasive person generally. It just means not tolerating sloppy approaches to goal setting and decision making -- both from yourself and from others.
If you look at the framework above, there are really just two parts to it: Step #1 is to set goals, and steps #2 - #5 are all about identifying and removing the problems that stand in the way of achieving those goals. Having an intolerance for sloppy thinking makes achieving both parts much easier.
"No Sloppy Thinking" means not tolerating:
This intolerance of sloppy thinking has to begin internally, and that's where I'm really focused right now. I'm going to use Dalio's framework to help me be very methodical about it. As Sebastian mentioned, "nobody is equally good at all five steps in the framework." Isn't that the truth -- in the past I've been way too tolerant of problems that block the achievement of my goals. It's easy to put decisions off because there's friction being created by problems in your way, but I'll be focusing on taking swift and decisive action to handle those problems instead of tolerating them.
What opinions do you have about Dalio's framework? How tolerant are you of problems that block you from achieving your goals? What step in the framework are you the best & worst at? I'd love to hear your opinions and have a discussion with you in the comments below.
* Side note: This blog is very focused on my macro goal #3, "Creating tremendous value," by creating a space for entrepreneurs to help each other. I don't blog much about goals #1 or #2 here. If you'd like to read & discuss topics around relationships and raising children, I invite you to hop over and subscribe to my less tech-focused blog, LifeWeTravel.
Great summary of a framework for executing goals. but is there anyway to incorporate a feedback loop into such process? because people's goals changes as they gain more data points. Especially at a young age(I am 25.), there are multiple choices. This is somewhat related to goal setting too.
You're absolutely right -- it's not called out in this framework. But personally, feedback forms an integral part of every step in the process. For example, here's an article from the Silicon Valley Product Group that a buddy shared with me the other day: http://www.svpg.com/the-need-for-speed -- while this is product focused, I would apply these "speed" principles in any situation, and part of the reason speed is important is to get copious amounts of feedback and external data points.
This post is a work in progress, since we’re just now selling our company Socialize to ShareThis. I also wrote about how the experience feels, and what getting a deal done is like.
One of my goals is to ensure a successful outcome from the deal. I'll start by defining what I mean by "successful outcome:" That the combination of the two companies produces more value together than we would have been able to achieve alone.
The first thing I did was start writing an Integration Document with my co-founders when we signed the term sheet. This document laid out the specific goals of the acquisition, the resources we had at our disposal, and the key items we would need to request to achieve those goals. Once we had co-edited that document in Google Docs to a point where we were all satisfied with it, I shared it with the ShareThis executive team.
I had already discussed and gotten agreement from Kurt, the CEO, on what the main goals of the acquisition were pre-term sheet. In the integration document, I outlined how we were going to prioritize those goals, and what resources we were going to put into them to achieve the goals.
Daniel Odio just posted "No Sloppy Thinking: A Framework To Achieve Your Goals" which referenced one important exercise I've done with a lot of people -- which is looking at Dalio's goal-achieving framework, and figuring out where you're strong and weak.
Odio is a fantastic guy, sharp thinker, and that post is a worthy short read. Check it out.