Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tree Skiing and Business Goals

Company incentive programs and goals are similar to tree skiing.
When you enter a glade (area of trees you ski or snowboard through) your end goal is to make it to the other side.
As you approach each tree, your mini goal is to miss each tree. As you progress through the glade, each tree avoidance is a mini-win. Each tree is a step to emerging successfully from the glades.
The key to avoiding each tree is to look past it, look at where you want to go, don't focus on the most imminent tree.
If you focus on the oncoming tree, you'll most likely smack right into it.
Glades are usually big enough for different paths, different trees that each person must navigate.
Goal and incentive setting in business is similar to tree skiing.
To often companies give individuals goals that represent avoiding a particular tree, they don't focus on exiting the glades. If a person focuses on avoiding the tree versus making to goal of the white space after the tree, good chance they'll hit the tree. If the tree is your only goal you aren't out of the woods yet.
Successful goal setting and incentives need to focus on the successful completion of the overall goal while making sure people understand in general to watch out for the trees. Business is dynamic and it requires people to be flexible and turn on a moments notice. Hence focusing on one particular tree tends to reduce the ability to dynamically navigate the glades of business.
Different departments may have different trees to avoid, but they should all be in the same forest looking to come out to the same place as everyone else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Remember that if everyone is only keeping an eye on the forest and no one is looking after the trees the whole forest will wilt away.

Another way of putting it is that one man's tree maybe another persons forest.

Or the metrics against which you measure someone should be within their control and they should feel empowered to deliver on that. That metric however needs to be rooted into the end of making it succesfully through the forest.

Paul F.