Organizations/Teams can only accomplish two or three goals at once with excellence.
That quote from Stephen Covey has had me thinking all weekend. I threw out that quote to see who agrees with it, so I thought I should share what I thought.
I tend to agree with Covey in regards to doing it with excellence. As an organization, if you have more than three major goals you begin to diminish how effective you can be. You might have some smaller goals underneath those three major goals. Those are the how I am going to get it done kind of stuff. The problem is when you take on more and more you tend to lose steam in the other areas. It is a constant struggle to stay focused and do what you do best every day. When we start to dabble in areas we are not experienced in and good at we risk losing the effectiveness of what we do well.
I have also found that to be true in my own area of work. The department that I lead is Care Ministries at NewPointe Community Church. I have three major areas I try to focus on. For now those areas are:
- Developing the Mentoring Ministry (one-on-one and couple to couple ministry) – Helping people through difficult times in their lives.
- Launching a Leadership Development Experience for NewPointe leaders and potential leaders.
- Coaching small group leaders to lead healthy thriving small groups.
In each of those areas, I have multiple goals to help accomplish the bigger goal. What gets me in trouble is all the other smaller things that come up every day. I can’t always be focused on just those three things, because I have many other responsibilities. I think most people can identify with that. However, by having those top three goals I can regularly step back and look at those areas to see if we are making progress. If I would have four, five or six major goals, I would find it even more difficult to be excellent in any of them. As a matter of fact I wonder how “excellent” those three are right now.
The more you can narrow the focus the more excellent you will be in that area. The more time you can spend on something the better you can get at it. So yes, I agree with Covey in the sense that your organization should have no more than two to three major goals. Each department or team within the organization should also have two to three major goals that support those top three for the organization. If you want to be excellent you need to focus on the things you do best. Too many goals tends to paralyze you and keep you from being world class, instead you become average.
This can be one of the hardest things you ever do. Saying no to big opportunities because it is not what is best for the organization, or it would cause sideways energy. The more sideways energy you create the weaker you get in the areas of true importance. The best leaders stay focused and can say no to the things that don’t fit or would cause you to get distracted.