I had a strong affirmative reaction to this passage when I came across the other day.
Every movement must constantly reconfirm its goals and objectives, returning always to its prime point, to the reason for its existence. Otherwise, there is a danger of methodology becoming all-important, obliterating the movement’s original objective. When this happens, even a movement that may once have achieved spectacular growth will find its wheels spinning uselessly, and in the end it will grind to a halt.
If a movement persists in stressing quantitative targets and the means to accomplishing them, even though its members do not support and accept its aims and objectives, a sense of coercion will come to prevail. This saps people’s initiative and enthusiasm; they grow negative about taking action. They lose all their joy and vitality. When that happens, even the loftiest of movements eventually reaches an impasse.
When the aims and objectives are understood and agreed upon, however, the next step is to set clear goals. Whether for an organization or for an individual, it is crucial that the goals be as concrete as possible. Having a goal makes things more exciting, more worthwhile; also, we experience a profound sense of joy when the goal is finally achieved. Once a goal has been decided on, it is important to give thorough consideration to how to best accomplish it.
Ever since joining SGI, I’ve felt very strongly that it is an exemplar of global organizational design. It was touching, then, to read this terse but thorough explanation of effective performance management that fits on one page of The New Human Revolution Volume 2.
In essence, it says that organizations need:
- The why (reason for exerting effort), and then
- The what (concrete goals), and then
- The how (plan to achieve those goals.)
I use this distillation all the time when designing and assessing performance management systems; from my experience and study, I think this is the easiest way to explain the cornerstones of modern performance management. It’s delightful to see it in a book from 1994, describing a mentality that was at the forefront of the organizational design of the SGI in the 1960s.