Goal-Setting Theory and Goal Trees

Goal-Setting Theory states that goal-Setting, when done properly, is motivating. A Goal Tree complies to the requirements of a motivating goal-setting, here is why.

Goal-Setting Theory

According to Theory, Goal-Setting (and the underlying objectives) helps to focus onto the Goal and keep focused. Set Goals tend to increase effort in order to achieve them. Once Goals are set, they reinforce persistence as one does not want to admit failure. Goals make us creative or make us learn when necessary skills are not mastered.

Yet good Goal-Setting requires:

  • Specificity, which means clarity of purpose, precisely specified objectives, etc.
  • Challenge or Difficulty, which make achievement a victory and more satisfactory. Goals impossible to achieve are not motivating, though.
  • Acceptance and commitment. Goals forced onto someone may not motivate much.
  • Feedback and appraisal. This is necessary for “calibration” and benchmarking.

The following video made available by Alanis Business Academy tells you a bit more about Goal-Setting Theory.


Goal Tree and Goal-Setting Theory

A Goal Tree sets a Goal, that’s why this logical tree has been created for. It was because many efforts got lost by not knowing what the Goal was that Bill Dettmer derived the Thinking Processes (TP) Intermediate Objective Map (IO Map) into a more suitable tool he called the Goal Tree.

The Goal is set on top of the Tree where it is very visible and symbolically well placed so that everybody know on what to focus. The Goal statement should make sense and be understood by everyone. The Goal is the reason why the organization exists, so being member of the organization obviously requires accepting the Goal and committing to achieve it.

The array of underlying objectives, called Necessary Conditions (NCs), should be verbalized in a clear and specific way. This is verified when building the Tree and checking it with the Categories of Legitimate Reservations (CLR), which also ensure the overall logical robustness of the Tree.

Many of these Necessary Conditions are not fulfilled when the Tree is built (otherwise the Goal would be achieved..!) and fulfilling them is the challenged required by Goal-Setting Theory. A decent share of these NCs will be difficult enough to keep contributors motivated.

In the same way, some necessary skills may not be mastered, thus giving opportunity to learn or find by-passes.

The periodic reviews of the Tree status give opportunities for feedback and benchmarking, as well as appraisal or eyebrows frowning.

Wrapping-up

Going through the requirements of the Goal-Setting Theory, the Goal Tree is not only compliant, but allow the whole (often strategic) intent to be stated in a clear logical way. Reading a Goal Tree is reading the storybook.

If Goal-Setting Theory needed a tool, the Goal Tree is the one.


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