Tag Archives: vision

„Fly me to the moon“: achieving dream objectives

11185799 - united states, 1969, postage stamp issued to commemorate first moon landing

The passing of Gene Cernan a couple of weeks ago brought back to me the sheer greatness of the Apollo program.

In 1961, American president John Fitzgerald Kennedy announces that he ambitions for the USA to fly a man to the moon and back before then end of the decade. At that time, America had not even managed to put a man in orbit, and only one American had technically been in space, and only for a few minutes. As motivating as such an ambition might be, it seemed extremely far from the tiny capabilities of the space program as it was.

One can expect various reactions ranging from incredulity to broad enthusiasm. Yet even the latter needs at least one more ingredient for men and women to carry the project through successfully.

When managing teams, we want and need to achieve dream objectives as well. And although not as breath taking as the sight of a man walking on the moon, reaching these targets make a big difference, especially for those involved in achieving them.

But the skepticism or even the over-enthusiasm can hamper the achievement of dream objectives. There are some ingredients that have to be part of the plan.

 

A dream objective has a challenging yet easily understandable finish line

People need to be able to focus on what constitutes the finishing line. This should not be like running on a treadmill without a watch and km counter, but a fixed line to cross. Kennedy had stated the finishing line: it was to put a man on the moon and to bring him back.

 

A dream objective is something rare, big and something clear.

An ambition too small misses the capacity to generate enthusiasm. If an objective seems easy, then it´s just another day at the office. It´s not changing the world, it´s changing the settings. Only crossing a real finish line that required work and dedication can deliver the satisfaction of a job well done and personal barriers having been breached.

Imagine if JFK had only set a goal of going to orbit and launching some probe to monitor space data…No, the moon was big, the moon was simple, the moon was something you get on your feet for.

 

A dream objective needs little win´s on the way.

Going from a 15-minute flight on a cannonball trajectory to a controlled flight to the moon does not happen without stages.

This is probably the most overlooked ingredient of success, and yet an ingredient that can reconcile the sceptics and the over-enthusiasts. The first see the objective too far away, the others sometimes cannot figure out how to get there and lose motivation along the way.

In the Apollo project, thousands of people combining a vast array of skills (sometimes too much as the Apollo program was very difficult to manage) started to evaluate what separated them from achieving the objective, and sketching out the sub-projects that needed to be undertaken for all of it to come together:  making a powerful rocket, mastering orbital flight, designing the craft to land on the moon, learn to fly it learn to dock in space, and of course calculate required trajectories, approach modes and speeds. And much more.

Each of these project step stones are win´s. The sceptics see that when looking at the concrete steps, the project becomes more realistic, and the over-enthusiastic see that the finish line is closing, and that their energy is not lost.

 

A dream objective is an ambitious goal made into a dream

I know, in companies, the objectives are not always as shiny and magical as going to the moon. Yet it is essential to always point out the difference crossing the finish line will make.

What can be considered a „bean counter“ objective can be understood as an ambition to make the organization stronger and capable of providing better jobs and further opportunities fr those involved.

It should also be said that everyone should be involved and invited to join just for the sake of individual growth and accomplishment. There can be no motivation if a dream objective does not fit in the personal plan of each and every participant. It´s the manager´s job to make it fit and to deliver to the participant the prospect of being a winner as an individual and not only through the collective.

 

A dream objective gets people on their feet, and the realization of it will deliver self-confidence, pride and a sense of fulfillment to all. A gift really. If you did not receive dream objectives from your own management…make your own.

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How motivated is the hamster running in his wheel?

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I don’t like running, I do it for the exercise, and the best part about running for me is when it ends. As usual I went running Saturday. Usually, I do 10 km in a circle because I hate going back the same way I came, so I try to plan a circuit I can do and that is achievable without turning back. Yet this Saturday my friend wanted to come along, and 10km is too much for her, so we agreed on going somewhere else where she could do a shorter run and I could complete the distance I wanted to do.

It all ended up for me running around a couple of times a 800m circumference lake in the Ruzinov district in Bratislava. And it was extremely unpleasant. It was unpleasant because it was boring. And because it was boring, I found it physically harder to perform. And after the third tour and seeing the same swan on the shore, an image came into my mind: the hamster spinning in his wheel at the pet shop. How can you be motivated to do anything if you’re not moving! Well a hamster might be OK with it, but people?

There is a saying in France “metro, boulot, dodo” which means in child speak “subway, work, sleep”. This illustrates a state of mind when boredom steps in your workday. When that happens, motivation is much harder to feel and performance goes down.

There are many risks for a team to to fall into the impression that the days all look alike and that the work is always the same. It is quite a threat to the group in performance, spirit, and teamwork.

Perhaps that’s why it is important beyond all these fun team building activities to keep alive with the team the notion that we are on a moving train and the landscape from the window is changing even if the interior of the train remains the same.

It’s easy for a manger to be overwhelmed by daily tasks to forget these couple of minutes that can make such a difference. I occasionally myself realize at the end of the day that I took care of the team technically, but I did not manage to take those couple of minutes to point out how interesting the day, the week and the month is going to be.

I’m glad my Saturday morning run reminded me of this.

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