Submitted by emmett.lazich on 7 December 2012 at 02:06
Emmett Lazich 49er Class National Coach for the Australian Sailing Team Development Director at Goalscape Software
OK Goalsetters, here is my follow-up post outlining a simple process for defining a high level strategy plan for achieving your sporting goals. Of course this uses Goalscape to represent visually the goal structure, priorities and progress.
The underlying method here (the first 3 steps) is not my idea; neither is it a new or revolutionary idea. In 2010 I first heard this method explained clearly and simply by Bill Sweetenham, a well respected Australian coach and mentor.
You can apply this method on your own for your solo projects; and in discussions with your team for shared projects.
Define your next major goal. Come up with a brief, inspirational expression for it.
Write this as the main (center) goal in a new Goalscape project.
Take some time to define the "essential ingredients" for your main goal. These are the subgoals that you need to achieve in order to reach your main goal – and they are directly related to your performance. You should have between 5 and 7 essentials. Sporting examples include: physical skills, mental skills, knowledge, personal relationships, equipment possession, equipment tuning, physical conditioning.
Enter these in your Goalscape project as the "level 1" subgoals surrounding your main goal.
Next seriously ask yourself:
a. What are the real costs of these essentials? Money, time, external help, sacrifices in other areas of your life, etc.
b. Are your essentials fully in your control? If not, then go back to step 2 and redefine your essentials.
c. Are you willing to “pay for” these essentials? If not, then your main goal cannot be attained. So revisit step 1 and try again.
If you make it past step 3, you have the beginning of an executable high level strategy to achieve your main goal. So you can go ahead and define subgoals for your essentials. Define as many subgoals and outer levels as you want, but don't have more than 9 essentials surrounding your main goal – in fact, beyond 7 essentials you can start to lose focus, direction and productivity.
Next you will want to assign the relative importance of your essentials, and their subgoals. Importance is simply how much you think a goal contributes to a higher goal. Goalscape makes this real easy. Just click on a goal and drag its arc-width to whatever you think looks correct!
Avoid the temptation to clutter your master strategy plan with operational details like logistics. You can supplement your high level strategy goalscape with other software tools for budgeting, task management, etc. Concentrate on your performance, in the moment, in your competitive environment.
As time rolls on, you might refine your essentials by gradually reorganising your subgoal structure. That's fine: just keep it simple. The overview should be immediately apparent from a glance at the main goal and two goal levels around it. You’ll know when you have a good plan because you’ll stop reorganising it: it just fits. And you’ll feel great because you now have clear direction and purpose.
When you are building and reviewing your project you can combat complexity by using Goalscape's abilities to focus the view on any subgoal, or hide the detail in outer goals.
To make a searchable plan, use the Notes field in each goal to include all the key information. You can add further detail by attaching files in any format, including images and video. Or assign people or context tags to any goal.
For team working, Goalscape usage becomes really cool and seriously useful. Upload your high level strategy info Goalscape Connect. Share it to your collaborators. Write chat comments on any goal, and optionally notify others by email. Suddenly you'll find your team is working toward a common agreed goal. You can increase progress made on outer subgoals and visually see the difference.
In my previous blog post I wrote that I gravitate toward a clean visual structure. So it should come as no surprise that I find it very frustrating indeed when I see a team of people debating over various solutions without first defining and agreeing upon the problem to be solved. Diligent use of Goalscape can eliminate all of this frustration. Problem definition is often easy, but too often incorrectly assumed or skipped!
PS. Goalscape v2.7 is finally being released this weekend. Some great improvements to both the desktop and web apps. Lots of work went into it. Hope you like it as much as we do!
Submitted by emmett.lazich on 25 October 2012 at 13:41
Emmett Lazich 49er Class National Coach for the Australian Sailing Team Development Director at Goalscape Software
Sydney 2000 was the first time I coached Olympic Gold Medal winning athletes. ThomasJohansonandJyrkiJärvifromFinland won the 49er class event by a large margin. Back in 2000, I only started working with those boys a few months before the Games. Immediately after it was over, I reflected on what happened and considered what it would take for anyone to reproduce that glorious result.
Raw talent is a huge advantage in this sport; but victory in Olympic sailing requires much more. Imagine a competitive environment where the field of play is more dynamic and less predictable than your 25 other human opponents. You and your partner are both piloting your craft: one person steers, while the other works the engine throttle. If you do not coordinate your body movements perfectly for any change in direction or speed, you will slow down or even crash.
Even when you make all the right movements and decisions, if you are inaccurate with the speed settings for your craft (initial set-up and adjustments during the race), then you certainly ain't winning anything on the big stage.
So proper preparation takes a lot of effort and attention to detail; and this is not just a matter of ‘checking all the boxes’. Actually I don’t believe it is possible to check all the boxes in sailing, since there are far too many uncontrollables. Yet we certainly need some methodical way to create order out of possible chaos.
So as a rookie coach in September 2000, I knew that a lot of ingredients had fallen into place. I felt very fortunate to be a part of Thomas and Jyrki’s victory.
I started coaching Nathan Outteridge in 2006; and from 2007 I was also working on what became the first truly solid version of Goalscape.
In January 2008, Nathan and crew Ben Austin won the 49er World Championship. Then they came ever so close to winning Gold in the Beijing China Olympics. People who compete at top level in annual sporting events probably cannot truly comprehend the disappointment we felt, knowing both the years we put in and that we had to work for another 4 years to have another crack at it. We came away from that losing experience much stronger and much wiser.
In August 2012, NathanOutteridgeandIainJensen from Australia won the 49er class Olympic Gold medal. Again by a large margin. And in the four years before the Games they had won 3 World Championships (they were 2nd in the other one). For me as their coach this was a totally different mission and journey.
In early 2009, Nathan teamed up with Iain. For the following 3½ years, our every plan, action and thought was considered in the context of the London 2012 event. This is where Goalscape came to my personal rescue.
Firstly, Goalscape allows me to define clear, simple philosophies and strategies that enable me to stay focused and do all the important things.
Secondly, everything significant that I must know or do is stored in a Goalscape. Everything, in every different area in which we need to excel.
Information overload is a big problem in this job. Goalscape helps me stay on top of this: It is my visual index to knowledge, data, history and essential performance related ingredients.
I cannot show you a real example of our campaign strategy goalscapes because they are private and valuable intellectual property. Instead here is an example goalscape that I use to help guide myself when I need to make tough decisions. In the next week or two, I shall post a followup blog outlining the simple process for creating a sport strategy goalscape.
In 2009, the online project sharing function of Goalscape was not ready, yet I desperately needed to share certain Goalscape projects with Nathan and Iain. The obvious solution was for me to use Goalscape on their behalf. I produced simple goal map views to help them to be effective at dealing with the present, while maintaining awareness of where they want to go. For the remainder of the campaign, we continued to operate like this: using Goalscape for our high level performance strategy and for tracking every little milestone in the 4 year Olympic cycle. Below is a goalscape from Marcus showing progress made for one category of skills.
When using a Goalscape view (of our high level strategy) as the basis for periodic performance review meetings with team management and support staff, a pleasant surprise was how brief and happy these meetings were. We could complete our reviews in 45 minutes, while other teams typically needed 2 or 3 hours. Follow-up work was quicker and easier too. During the session I'd update the relevant goalscape or goal, so the write-up was done instantly and everybody left the meeting knowing what they had to do next.
After these meetings, I was occasionally told how highly organised we were. That was such a lovely compliment considering that using Goalscape felt like taking an easy shortcut.
Not all data or problems fit right into the Goalscape format. I still make very extensive use of spreadsheets to store and crunch numbers for quantitative work. And for short and/or sequential presentations, slides work just fine.
I gravitate toward a clean visual structure. It is my primary learning style for understanding, remembering and communicating complex information. Obviously not everything is hierarchical; after using Goalscape for a while though, it's surprising how often a hierarchical structure does fit.
Today I'm making more use of Goalscape for presentations. I find it works well when the subjected being taught is too big and/or the discussions too dynamic for a set of sequential slides. With Goalscape I'm better equiped to let audience feedback drive the session more, so I focus better on what people want to learn.
Goalscape is still evolving. We are working on usability and presentation enhancements, easier sharing of goals with new users and accessing goals on tablets and other mobile devices. All of these changes will increase Goalscape’s value – and of course cement it as a key component in my coaching workflow.
Submitted by richard.parslow on 12 September 2012 at 17:22
International Sailing Federation (ISAF) announces Goalscape Software as Performance Partner under the Connect To Sailing initiative!
As an ISAF Connect to Sailing Partner, Goalscape is delivering the software and templates for the Learn to Sail Training Programme. This will help coaches and sailors to understand and communicate about the exercises and performance levels required at every stage of their training.
The package will be rolled out through ISAF's Member National Authorities, their Coaches and the ISAF team of Nominated Experts. In addition, Goalscape Software will pay more than 30% of all revenue from sales through ISAF directly to Connect to Sailing to foster the development of strong grass roots sailing globally.
We are using social media for smaller news items and for informal communications. You can follow @goalscape on Twitter and Like our Facebook page, then you can find out what we are up to next, see how other people are using Goalscape and post your own messages.
Submitted by richard.parslow on 9 September 2011 at 23:26
Win an amazing "money can't buy" experience and a year's Goalscape Connect subscription
We are looking for short videos (about 90 seconds) of our customers demonstrating how they use Goalscape. The best ones will appear on our website and will earn their authors a FREE 1-year Goalscape Connect subscription.
The author of the best video will also win a "money can't buy" prize: an expenses-paid trip to a 2012 world cup sailing event*, including a ride with world-class sailing coach (and Goalscape co-founder) Emmett Lazich.
How to enter Create a 90-second video showing how you use Goalscape.** It can be about anything: life goals, business projects, sports campaigns... or even how you organize your social activities!
Take our Survey You can also win a 6-month subscription to Goalscape Connect simply by taking our 3-question survey. This is your chance to let us know what you think of Goalscape - and to have your say about how we should improve it. All respondents will be put into a draw and we will randomly select five winners.
All winners will be notified by direct email and we will publish their names in our next Newsletter.
We look forward to hearing from you!
*Continental travel and 4-Star hotel accommodation will be covered by us.
**Just use screencast-o-matic (it's free!); or you can try Camtasia or Screenflow (Mac only). Please upload your video to YouTube (or any other video-sharing site), make your video public and send the link to support [at] goalscape [dot] com (subject: Video%20Competition) (support [at] goalscape [dot] com), with 'Video Competition' as the Subject.
As a professional sailor I desperately wanted compete at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. I had already done quite well and had won a few national regattas; but had not had much success at top level. The Olympics is a serious challenge and I was no likely candidate. But I just loved sailing the exciting new boat that had been chosen for the next Games; and I was fanatically determined to sail against the world’s best sailors on one of the most beautiful stretches of water anywhere: Sydney Harbor. So I set out on the journey with my sailing partner, neither of us having any idea what a roller-coaster ride it would be.
The challenge before us was complex. The 49er was a new class of boat that hardly anybody could handle and we had very little experience to build upon. We also knew we would have to take our racing skills and our physical fitness to completely new levels, as well as learning to sail the boat. And on top of all that we had organize everything ourselves and raise the money for what to many seemed like a 4-year holiday. Of course the reality was a lot of hard work with long days and plenty of ups and downs. It was intense, but very rewarding because we were really focused on our shared dream goal – and we loved to sail the boat for hours at a time, day after day.
We had incredibly long to-do lists, so it was frustrating and stressful trying to fit in everything we had to do each day. I knew that if we were to reach our goal, we had to approach this challenge in a better way. Setting the right priorities is easier said then done when entering uncharted territory: there always seemed too much to do and resources were scarce. But the clock was ticking, so we had to prioritize if we were to achieve anything at all.
What I needed was a visual map to show the entire structure of the challenge: every goal and subgoal. I wanted to fly over the landscape of goals and get the view from 30,000 feet: seeing all the goals at once and the connections between them. What’s more I had to track our progress in every area so I could always see exactly where we were in order to decide what to do next.
So I came up with the Goalscape goal map. A multi-level pie chart seemed to be the best way to break down the huge challenge into specific goals and subgoals in every area. The circle represented the fact that our resources were limited: when we spent time, money and energy in one area, we could not spend it anywhere else.
My first goalscape chart covered only the boathandling area, a specific part of sailing that is particularly important in the 49er class.
The boat is so difficult to sail that many international champions from other classes spent most of their time upside-down – and quite a few of them quit. My goalscape displayed ALL the maneuvers we needed to perform during a race. On the goal map we gave the most important maneuvers (those that contributed most to our success on the racecourse) the biggest slices.
For each maneuver the goal was to perform it automatically without thinking about it, so that we had all our brain capacity available for strategic and tactical decisions. And on each goal we marked our progress by filling in its slice, so we could literally see our skills improving all the time.
We soon realized that this system could also be used very effectively in other areas like fitness, gear testing and tuning for speed, or planning our logistics and financials.
Actually being able to SEE the challenge like this certainly helped us to be better organized and to improve faster in our sailing: we climbed to the top of the world rankings and qualified to represent our country at the Olympic games. So we achieved our first major goal!
As we progressed through our campaign, we had been re-evaluating our goals: changing the relative importance of each to match the requirements of the next phase. By the time we arrived in Sydney we were set on winning a medal.
In fact we led the Olympic regatta until the 6th race, when we started to succumb to one of our weaknesses (I am not going to say what that was!). In the end we finished 5th, which was respectable – but it was not what we had aimed for. Even in defeat though, Goalscape helped a lot when we analyzed what went wrong. It clarified how under the prevailing conditions one weakness had led to another.
After that experience I was certain that the Goalscape concept needed a computer implementation to achieve its full potential. Drawing goalscapes by hand was slow and tedious: it could not deal with the evolving challenge and its rapidly shifting priorities. And I already had lots of detailed information in different formats (like notes and diaries, spreadsheets, even video files) that I needed to access for different goals. So the idea of Goalscape as a visual software tool grew in my mind. Soon I was just as determined to create it, as I had been keen to master the 49er. Fortunately I was able to assemble a great international team to join me on the project.
Designing a solid, useful, simple and beautiful piece of software proved to be as challenging as competing at the Olympics. After a lot of hard work (and a couple of false starts!) we launched our first public version of Goalscape in late 2009. Today it's a complete, mature visualization solution: this is what the boat handling breakdown looks like now:
I only wish I could have had this back in 1997 when I first set out on my Olympic quest!
Goalscape’s real power lies in its unique ability to display in a single image the key success factors of any challenge:
Specific, inspirational goals
Clear relative priorities
Continual evaluation of progress
Its unique visual, prioritized work breakdown, together with the facility to collect detailed information about every goal, means that Goalscape is perfect for understanding, presenting and managing any challenge. And because it’s dead easy to use, it never gets in the way of the “real work”.
All top sportsmen and coaches (and many progressive businessmen) now use a structured, goal-oriented approach. They know that goals are essential for motivation, commitment and focus; and that shared goals produce cohesive teams with a common purpose.
Goalscape provides a single clear picture of the entire goal structure. So it not only helps leaders to define goals and plans, it is also the ideal way to communicate those goals and plans to everyone involved, then track progress and agree any changes required as circumstances change.
Unlike other, less structured, visual tools, Goalscape is not just for brainstorming. Users can still "jot down" their high level goals and work out the subgoals needed to achieve them; but then they can set their priorities and allocate resources, building a complete project plan, down to the finest details.
The application has already spread rapidly in the sports community and is being adopted by some very large companies. One of its major benefits to such organizations is that they can take a standard model and adapt it to suit specific requirements.
Similarly, corporations (and consultants) can take a standard industry, business or project model, adapt it to suit different goals and situations, then make detailed plans (with roles, responsibilities and timescales). They can take it to any level of detail, including agreeing specific goals for every person in the company, which then form the basis for staff reviews.
Goalscape clearly shows when the quality of the goal in the center is underdeveloped, incomplete or badly expressed. Most successful sportsmen are exceptionally highly motivated. They have a clear goal, which is at the center of their attention all the time. In business, average motivation levels are much lower. The main reason for this is a lack of alignment of personal and business goals or the complete absence of a clear, well-communicated visionary goal.
Goalscape is a great way to establish and maintain a proper dialog about goals within an organization. It supports full communication, top down and bottom up, so everyone can understand, adopt and influence the development of corporate goals and strategies.
With our new web version Goalscape Connect (currently available in preview), it becomes an unbeatable tool for fast, agile online collaboration.
Best of all everyone can be more focused and productive at work and at play – and have more fun!
Submitted by richard.parslow on 11 December 2010 at 05:57
Here is Marcus' video explaining the new features in the latest Updates package:
Integration with other tools: project management and mindmapping tools like MS Project and MindManager
Customization (look out for his special 'color scheme for the color blind'!)
There is now a Goalscape Group on Facebook where you can find out how others are using Goalscape and see sneak previews of what we are planning next.
The new Template Gallery is now open: download some standard templates or upload your own ideas in Goalscape format. Remember too that you can now Import MMAP files into Goalscape. So you can download mindmap templates from biggerplate and many other sites all over the web, then open and edit them in Goalscape – even if you do not currently use any mindmapping software.
Here is an interesting story from Rick Perkins about how he is using Goalscape to manage his latest charity project.
Goalscaping For Charity: Raising £2,000 for Action Medical Research by Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s
Rick Perkins recently signed up to cycle the length of Britain in aid of Action Medical Research, a marvelous charity dedicated to improving the health of babies and children in the UK.
For nearly 60 years Action Medical Research has been behind numerous breakthroughs including the UK polio vaccine and ultrasound scanning in pregnancy. More recently it developed the fetal heart rate monitor: a new state-of-the-art device that could save thousands of at-risk babies by identifying potential problems much earlier than has previously been possible.
The route for the ride is from Land’s End at the tip of Cornwall in the South West of England to John O’Groats, the northernmost point of the Scottish mainland. The distance is 1,000 miles, to be covered in just 9 days.
This presented a 3-fold challenge:
Find ways to raise the required £2,000 in sponsorship
Sort out the logistics: sourcing equipment and planning for the event
Do enough training to be able to complete the course.
So Rick had a lot to do before he could get on his bike in Land’s End! Fortunately he has a lot of experience in projects of different kinds, so he knew that investing a bit of time in organisation and planning would pay dividends later on. Rick uses Goalscape for his work and his other sporting activities, so his first step was to goalscape this new endeavour.
The Goalscape chart in the screenshot below shows Rick’s opening project plan. This is a charity event and the main goal is to Raise £2,000 for Action Medical Research through sponsorship. So although physical training is going to be a very significant element, the initial focus is on the fund raising work. Rick is reasonably fit and does a lot of cycling anyway, so he knew that at the start he could spend a lot of time chasing sponsorship, as long as he did enough ‘maintenance’ work on his fitness.
Rick’s first step was to use Goalscape to identify the different groups of people he needs to communicate with and plan exactly how to do that. As he did this planning he also jotted down some goals in other areas, along with any other ideas that occurred to him: he knew that he could come back later to make detailed plans for achieving those other goals.
As the project developed and he is starting to hit some of his early targets, he is updating his goalscape: ticking off completed goals, adding new ones and adjusting the relative importances as his priorities change.
Starting with his initial setup, Rick has added a new goal for Equipment and a few more subgoals in other areas. He has also started to make detailed plans for his training programme and is filling in the progress he has already made in all his goals.
Right now Rick is doing quite well in his Fund raising and Communications goals and he is starting to build up his training mileage. He has also put some more thought into the Event itself, planning what he needs and organising how to transport everything.
He is not finished yet though: the ride itself is not until May 2011 and there is a lot to do before Rick gets on his bike at Land’s End.As his project goes on, he will be updating his goalscape and sharing it on his website and on Facebook so his friends and sponsors can follow his progress, exchange messages and tell all their friends about it.
Rick says “I use Goalscape in my private and business life and it is the ideal tool to help me tackle this challenge.There are so many parts to it and such a lot to do!I need to have a proper plan so I can see everything I need to do, decide what to do next and make everything run as smoothly as possible. In the build-up to the event I will be spending more and more time on the road, so I am using Goalscape to make sure I do all my fundraising, logistics and admin work as early as possible.
“As I continue to work my way through it I can keep adjusting the goalscape to accommodate my shifting focus and refine my detailed plans.I am putting screenshots on my website and Facebook page so everyone can see what I am up to – they can even suggest things I may have missed!”
Submitted by richard.parslow on 1 August 2010 at 17:56
We have been using Goalscape for our own presentations since we first started to build it; and quite a few of our recent updates have enhanced this aspect.
Now Marcus Baur has made a short video that shows how you can use Goalscape to build rich, engaging presentations (with less effort!) – and use the same model to plan the follow-up actions. Marcus also illustrates some of the cool features you can use when delivering your presentation and interacting with your audience.
"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool
all the people all the time."Abraham Lincoln
Winning competitions and maximizing returns (profit) are the most common goals we find in sports, business or politics. In this article I argue that despite their popularity, they are also amongst the worst goals we can have. In fact, they should not be regarded as goals at all. Winning a competition, making a big profit or winning an election are more like rewards. Maybe deserved, maybe undeserved. It is a cognitive trap to confuse these rewards for doing the right thing, with ... well: doing the right thing.
I fact, winning and making a profit CAN BE a reward for doing the right thing, but sometimes it can be the opposite. People win rewards for doing the wrong thing rather often. It just depends on how lucky they get or how many people are fooled. But fooling people only works short term and every lucky streak must end. Long term, no one is rewarded for doing the wrong thing all of the time.
The recent financial crisis and the BP oil spill are two examples of the life-threatening consequences of a short-term focus on profit to the exclusion of all else. Some people were doing some very wrong things and they got away with it for quite a while. I found the exact same sort of blindness in sport, that little laboratory of life: many people want so desperately to win that their performance disintegrates. So before we get to business and how it can go wrong, I want to talk about sport and how people mess up there.
Do the right thing in sports
I competed as a sailor in two Olympic Games, coming 5th and 9th in the 49er skiff class. The most valuable lesson I took away from Olympic level sailing is that Gold can be blinding. Winning is the result of doing something exceptionally well in the moment. This present-focused state is extremely joyful. Time has no meaning in this state. It is pure experiential happiness. In psychology it's called Flow. This is not a blissed-out state of peaceful meditation though: it can include speed, intensity and controlled aggression. It's all about doing the right thing. At its best, the athlete's mind is completely void of thoughts about the past or the future. In this state the benefits of winning and the fear of losing simply do not exist.
As soon as an athlete focuses on the potential reward that his performance can bring (that Gold Medal!), he or she starts underperforming (I know because I have been there too many times). The hope of winning comes with the fear of losing – they are two sides of the same coin. Thinking about the outcome inevitably creates fear; and when fear sets in, movements and thoughts become lame and robotic, so the performance degrades. This causes more panic, even worse performance and desperate decision-making. Thus begins the horrific downward spiral of the blown brain.
So whoever manages to stay in the zone of the present moment will perform at his or her best (I also know because I have been there a few times). Anyone interested in the mastery of something strives for this state when practicing - consciously or unconsciously. But when competition time comes, with its tantalizing rewards, the majority are distracted. So the challenge is to lose this distraction. Setting the right goal can make a big difference.
The relaxed, focused state of Flow, when everything works perfectly in slow-motion is so joyful that achieving it is a goal in itself? Why not drop the goal of 'winning' altogether – it's a mere distraction from the real goal of achieving Flow and a master performance. Let the rewards roll in by themselves. The goal of anyone striving for mastery should be to perform at his or her best in the moment - because that's all that really matters.
So in other words, the real goal in sports is doing the right thing and being happy doing it. It should be the same in business and politics.
Do the right thing in Business and Politics
My call to "do the right thing and being happy doing it" is even more relevant in business and politics than in sports. In sports, not much is left when the game is over. The fans pack up, the footage is archived, nothing but the memory remains. But in business and politics, the results of a good or a bad performance can be felt for decades to come. Focusing too much on profit is the biggest distraction from doing the right thing.
So how do we find the right thing? How do we find the right goals? Goal setting is one of the most fundamental skills in life, yet one of the most difficult to master. Why? Because at its root, it's about finding out what makes us happy. But happiness does not come by mail order. We obviously did not evolve to be very good at being happy.
The good news is, we understand more about happiness all the time. Watch this great 20 min talk by Nobel Prize winner and inventor of Behavioral Economics Daniel Kahneman to learn about the state of happiness research:
Kahneman explains how a lot of the confusion about happiness comes from not telling the two essential modes of happiness apart: the state of being happy (experiential happiness) and the act of thinking about one's own happiness (reflective happiness). It's the confusion between experience and memory.
Goal setting for happiness is about finding goals that strike a wise balance between these two realms. Great goals make us happy in the moments that we work towards them; but they also make us happy when we remember how we acted and see what we created or when we imagine what we will create in the future.
To find the right goals we may need some insight from happiness research. It can help us to recognize why we sometimes choose the wrong goals: perhaps we mix up different time perspectives; or maybe we are confused about the different notions of "happiness".
At the end of his talk Kahneman mentions a striking finding of a recent worldwide Gallup poll that sheds some light on what makes us happy and what doesn't. Below an annual income of 60,000 USD, money correlates with happiness (or rather, lack of money correlates with misery). Above this level however, earning more money has absolutely NO EFFECT on people's experience of happiness in the moment! So money matters, but in a very different way than we usually think it does.
The contemporary obsession with growing profits is a partial hallucination. From a certain point onwards, having more money does not make a difference to us. It only works for the reflective self but not the experiencing self. For example: most people gambling on the stock market have an income above 60.000 USD a year. The stock market is a great place to make long term investments in the right people and ideas. But not a place to shop for instant happiness. There is nothing to win really. People might think they are gambling for happiness, but there is nothing to gain in terms of experiential happiness. Any windfall above 60.000 USD results in no experiential happiness gain (according to the Gallup organization and Daniel Kahneman), but losing can cost the pension. Its a bad bet.
Of course, this is only true for experiential happiness. Money and status does make a difference for the reflective self, the mode of thinking we are in when we consider how happy we are. But so does anything else that triggers pride, gratitude or a sense of security in us. It's time to change our focus.*
This is especially important since the business world has become so obsessed with profitability that it often passes a point where it entirely forgets about doing something useful. That's the point where a business is heading for bankruptcy. Maybe it takes decades for it to fail, maybe it takes years or just a few weeks: sooner or later a business will come along that serves customer needs better and has happier, more creative minds working for it. Then the old profit-chasing business is finished.
A business that stops striving for happiness has the clock ticking against it - sooner or later it will be obsolete. So aiming for happiness and doing something useful should be at the core of any business.
Goal setting for happiness is obviously not relevant to individuals only. It is just as important for businesses. Not a big surprise if you consider that a healthy business is not defined by its pretty logo but by its individual members striving to be happy and doing their best to serve others who also want to be happy.
Change is inevitable, but it should be motivated by goals that increase the usefulness of the organization whilst staying profitable. If change is focused on profitability only, usefulness can get seriously compromised causing a cancer that slowly kills the business.
Just as form follows function, profit should follow usefulness and happiness.
Here are two recent example of how focusing on profit alone lead people astray: the global financial crisis and the BP oil spill.
Do the wrong thing and be miserable doing it
Lending money (for which you need hold only 10% in reserve!) and drilling holes in the ground until you hit liquid gold are two of the best business models of our time. While I do not want to discuss the degree of wrongness of these models here, what I find puzzling about them is how huge corporations with ridiculous advantages and some very intelligent decision-makers can mess up so badly.
A nonsensical thirst for profits drove the financial industry into disaster. Lending money to people who could never repay it, then selling the risk in a bundle of securities is not a useful thing to do - and if at all, only to a very small number of people (and then only short-term). It may have raised profitability for some time, but, like any other bubble, it was certain to burst. And it did so in a spectacularly disastrous manner.
Instead of only considering short term profitability, banks should have asked: "Why can people not repay their loans? How can we create an environment where repayment is possible? How can we serve and be useful to society?" I am not naive - I know they are light years away from this sort of thinking. But some head honchos had to pay dearly for their greed: bankrupting their corporations, losing their jobs and their reputations... Even the most hard-headed of them must also suffer terrible guilt for destroying the lives of many "ordinary people" (both the hundreds of thousands of original debtors and the millions more who have lost their jobs as a result of the downturn).
The financial crisis was no accident - just like the biggest oilspill in history.
Since the BP oilspill in the gulf of Mexico in April 2010, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating the incident. In a statement made in June it noted that in a number of cases leading up to the explosion, BP appeared to have chosen riskier procedures to save time or money, sometimes against the advice of its staff or contractors.
When BP saved a few thousand dollars on security equipment, and when politicians bowed down to lobbyists to deregulate security measures, they did not ask: "Is this a useful thing to do?"; they just asked: "Does this make us more profitable or influential?".
Well the clock was ticking for them; and now the tables have turned against BP and those governments. The oil spill has halved the BP share price (equating to losses of 60 billion USD). And they have not even paid the bill yet. No company with such an unbeatable business model, guided by the usefulness of its actions and the happiness those actions create could ever make such stupid decisions, if it were not focused solely on profitability (probably amplified by a greed disorder).
Put Happiness in the center
How much more rewarding is a sensible goal setting approach that puts human happiness at the center of attention. On top of the positive results that are produced by such a approach, there is another strong reason why usefulness and happiness should be central to any goal setting process: they increase human motivation.
We are in fact in the middle of a motivational crisis. According to another Gallup poll from 2009, less than 20% of the workforce are highly motivated. In a recent talk, Sir Ken Robinson portrayed two types of people: those who love what they do and those who don't. Its no surprise that the lovers are a minority. To solve this motivational crisis we have to convert people who work just to get paid into people who love what they do.
The cause of this motivational crisis has a lot to do with the isolated focus on profit. It leads people to do wrong and even nonsensical things. Motivation is only possible where people have set or adopted goals for themselves that mean something to them.
So in sports, business, politics and in our personal lives we should start a dialogue to find these goals.
Do the right thing with Goalscape
One of the biggest challenges in our lives is to strike a good balance between the "now" (immediate gratification) and the "later" (deferred gratification). Goalscape helps us to strike a delicate balance between these different time perspectives and do the right thing at the right time.
With Goalscape, your goals are right in the center of all your concerns in every area of your life: they are always in view so you think about them frequently and keep checking them. Are your goals worthwhile and useful? Do they represent a good balance between what you want to achieve long term and how you want to live right now? Do they trigger your passion and at the same time improve your life? If you are working in a team does everybody share the same goals and find them equally inspiring?
Once you have found these highly motivating goals, you can easily break them down into achievable parts, visualize relative priorities dynamically, track your progress along the way and reach your goals more easily.
We believe the best goals in the world deserve the best goal setting software in the world: that's why we created Goalscape.
And yes - we also want to make a profit, but mostly to help us do what we do better:
To design a tool that puts the reason WHY we do what we do in the center - making it visible, discussable and above all improvable - so that we learn to do more of the right things - whatever they may be.
*If you are looking for more insight into the state of happiness research, read the latest works by Philip Zimbardo, Daniel Kahneman, Martin Seligman, Daniel Gilbert and Steven Pinker; or or watch their other TED talks.