Organizational Psychology for Managers is phenomenal. Just as his talks at conferences are captivating to his audience, Steve’s book will captivate his readers. In my opinion, this book should be required reading in MBA programs, military leadership courses, and needs to be on the bookshelf of every Fortune 1000 VP of Human Resources. Steve Balzac is the 21st century’s Tom Peters.
Stephen R Guendert, PhD
CMG Director of Publications
The other day I took my kids to see Monsters University. For those unfamiliar with the movie, it’s the prequel to Pixar’s extremely funny Monster’s Inc, of a decade or so ago, and tells the story of how the main characters of that movie met.
That would be James P. Sullivan and Michael Wazowski, just in case you haven’t been paying attention.
Early in Monsters University, Michael Wazowski arrives on the titular college campus with a list of goals: register for classes, unpack, ace all his classes, graduate, get a job as a scarer. Mike Wazowski is nothing if not ambitious.
And he does accomplish the first two goals on his list.
After that, well, it got tricky.
Creating goals is more than just writing down what you hope will happen: that’s the easy part. The hard part is breaking those goals into manageable chunks. While big goals might inspire us, left only as big goals they don’t give us good directions. It’s on a par with driving from San Francisco to Boston by “going east.”
It helps to be a bit more precise if you want to end up in the right city. If you don’t know at the start how to be that precise, then you have to create goals to find out before you overshoot your destination. That can leave you embarrassed, not to mention all wet.
At their best, goals force us to anticipate potential problems and plan to avoid them; goals enable us to identify our strengths and figure out how best to use them to our advantage. Done well, goals turn into strategy, and when they fail that’s warning us that something isn’t going according to plan. While no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, the very fact that our battle plan is failing is telling us that we have made contact.
I run into businesses all the time whose goals are like Mike Wazowski’s: they start easy and then jump to the big, bold, and vague. There are two major differences, however, between them and Mike: their failures to set clear goals don’t make a good movie and it doesn’t always work out well in the end. In other words, it pays to understand how to really set goals.
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