The Uncertainty Mindset 2019-2020

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#17: Boris

vaughn2nd January 2021 at 3:12pm

This issue is about conventional goal-setting exercises, why they are usually time-consumingly pointless—and why a different approach I call Boris works better. (No relation to Boris Johnson.)

Boris begins from a fundamentally different place from conventional goal-setting: it is a forcing function to make people in teams and organizations talk about the tradeoffs they are (or aren’t) willing to make, instead of focusing on figuring out concrete goals in advance. The result is that team members build a shared and explicit understanding of what they can and can’t do. This is a form of realistic imagination, which frees them to do everything else needed to innovate or respond to unpredictable change.

The responsiveness Boris helps organizations achieve is practical autonomy. The unexpected—but often welcome—side effect of Boris is thus that the organization and and its members become highly effective.

Boris works where conventional goal-setting doesn’t because uncertainty and the need for innovation screw up conventional ways of thinking about setting and managing goals. If the environment changes in unpredictable ways, inherently static goals don’t work. If the aim is to create something no one has created before, setting goals known in advance to be "achievable" and "realistic" doesn't work.

You can find it here: #17: Boris