Posted by: Ornella Farrugia
on Tue 22 May

At May’s Innovation Day, we welcomed Professor Victor Newman, Industrial Fellow at the University of Greenwich Business School. He believes that the ability to translate our problems is a skill, and by deliberately using different language to explore our problems, we can give ourselves the freedom to move and think outside of the box. This is Goal Orientation.

More often than not, we dread the Monday morning commute, anticipating the pile of work and list of problems waiting for us at our desk. What we rarely notice is the opportunity to make these problems work for us. Goal Orientation is the extent to which an individual or an organisation focuses on one or more tasks while also keeping in mind the direction and expected results of those tasks. It is a type of strategy that can affect how the company approaches its plans for future projects.

So, what should we do about that?

Goal Orientation combines leadership and innovation through applying an attitude of continuous questioning:

  • What do we really want?
  • Why do we want it?
  • How do we get it?
  • When do we need this by?

Often, we ask too vague questions with only little or no direction that will take us nowhere close to what we actually want to achieve. Familiarise yourself with Goal Orientation and ask yourself the right questions.

A goal should be short, clear and include a definable measure of successful performance. This helps us identify the most powerful statements that provide us with a greater focus and give us the most leverage. Try using the secret formula: ‘I want to…so that…by when’.

When we have learned what is it we really want to achieve, the key is to make the path to get there clear. Identify the obstacles which prevent you from acting and, when you know this, focus on how to get rid of the obstacles and the issue becomes ‘how-to’.

Furthermore, use metaphorical thinking: explaining your problem with metaphors will provide you with an escape, and space to look at it in a new way. Taking ourselves as far away from our problem and from reality as possible, is in itself a tool for problem solving. By transforming the problem, we transform our skills to analyse it.

Finally, structure your goals: many organisations can run into problems if there is a lack of goal orientation, even more so if the goals are not understood or shared by other members of the organisation. People are much more likely to buy into something and join in the revolution if they felt included in the thinking process and believe it means something to them.

These are just some key highlights taken from May’s Innovation Day. Each month, clients of the Innovation Programmes receive a full ACT report, capturing the guest expert’s research, the implications and next steps for leaders to apply back in their team and organisation.

Next month, clients will explore the concept of wellbeing in the workplace, a major hot topic that many organisations still don’t know all that it entails or why it is so important.  For more information, please view the Innovation Day page.

Sources: Newman, V. (2018) ‘Goal Orientation Technique’, KnowledgeBrief Innovation Day Presentation, 9 May.

Translate problems into goals by changing the language you use.

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