Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Setting Goals

As a leader, do you set goals for and/or with your staff?  Do you find that setting goals accomplishes what is needed and wanted? 

Goals work. ... The academic literature shows that by helping us tune out distractions, goals can get us to try harder, work longer, and achieve more.  ... Like all extrinisic motivators, goals narrow our focus. ... But...a narrowed focus exacts a cost.  For complex or conceptual tasks, offering a reward can blinker the wide-ranging thinking necessary to come up with an innovative solution. ... Substantial evidence demonstrates that in addition to motivating constructive effort, goal setting can induce unethical behavior.  ... The problem with making an extrinisic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route there, even if it means taking the low road. ... Contrast that approach with behavior sparked by intrinsic motivation.  When the reward is the activity itself...it's impossible to act unethically because the person who's disadvantaged isn't a competitor but yourself.

From:  Drive by Daniel H. Pink
Published by:  Riverhead Books


  1. Daniel Pink's suggestion that intrinsic motivation achieves results in an ethical manner is really interesting but I'm wondering how this is accomplished in a large organization with existing structures and processes. Thoughts from anyone???

  2. There is an excellent RSA-Animate on Pink's work on Youtube, I am not sure if the link will activate here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc
    He suggests that if the organization provides Autonomy (give people time to work on something that interests them, with whoever they want), Mastery (people want to get better at what they do), and Purpose (make ourselves and the world a better place) innovation will follow. This contradicts traditional notions of management....will require some rethinking of how we do things, or at least some things....I believe this applies at all levels - from the classroom to the school to a board level.....very interesting concepts that are backed up by research.

  3. Nadia Russiello27 April 2011 at 18:51

    It's interesting to think that goals can actually induce unethical behaviour. I don't know that I have seen this happen but my experience has been that goals do in fact focus a staff/team/network and can motivate them. However, sometimes the goal is too narrow and other possibilities are overlooked. I have seen an unwillingness or inflexibility regarding the goal - even when it may become evident that the goal is no longer the best 'fit' fot he group/students involved. This inflexibility has caused some people to persevere but the cost has been the loss of buy in by staff or diengagement of students. I think for me, it's important to set goals but to revisit them regularly and determine if they need to be tweaked based on new thinking.