Cool Solutions

Silence is not Goal(den)


September 30, 2010 4:13 pm





Should We Talk About Our Goals or Keep Them to Ourselves?

A member of my team sent me this short TEDtalks video by a guy named Derek Sivers. I think he sent it because we’re in the middle of our annual planning process and we’re all spending a lot of time talking about our goals.

Mr. Sivers’ position, backed up by research, posits that telling someone our goals makes them less likely to happen.  Turns out that when we tell people about our goals -“I’m going to lose 20 pounds in the next 60 days!”- we usually get positive feedback and encouragement and, according to Sivers, this good feeling makes us less likely to work hard to achieve our goal. This is why he called his talk, “Keep Your Goals to Yourself.”

Now, keeping your goals to yourself may be a good idea if you want to look good on the beach next summer, but it’s a terrible idea if you are running a business at large or a marketing organization specifically.  Here’s why I think so.

First of all, transparency is a critical element of organizational alignment. Marketing is a highly matrixed function and can only achieve its goals if they are aligned with the rest of the organization. Creating and executing goals in a vacuum just wouldn’t make any sense.

Secondly, when it’s planning time everything comes down to resource allocation. How can you possibly allocate resources appropriately and responsibly if people aren’t debating, defending and declaring their goals? The short answer is: You can’t.

Frankly, I think that marketing should be even more transparent and declarative about its goals. It’s a way to actively demonstrate the value you plan to bring to the efforts of others as well as laying the groundwork for reasonable accountability. Sure there’s granted trust involved in the public sharing of goals but I really can’t see any downside to expressing your intentions and can’t imagine how we could be successful without doing so.

Keeping your goals to yourself can apparently help you train for marathons and shrink dress sizes. It will not help you achieve your goals as a department or a company.

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Categories: Expert Views, PR Blog


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1 Comment

  1. By:Kathy

    interesting article, thanks for the good read. I have often been told that being accountable for your goals is the most effective measure. For example if you want to achieve your goal you have to tell others and put something on the line so that if you don’t achieve it you are made to pay but it cannot be something warm and fuzzy like donating to charity. “Oh well if I don’t lose 20 lbs then at least starving people benefit.” That works against you and you need to pledge to do something you loathe or give money or support to an organisation you detest. That plus regular reviews and coaching is touted as being the most effective measure. But really, who knows what is right across the board? I think some people would cave in under this kind of pressure, I am sure different personality traits would come into it. Now, the question is, how does one measure a company’s goals? Hmm some interesting and FUN marketing opportunities spring to mind. e.g. goal of 95% customer satisfaction rate on average next fiscal or all our executives run a 5k marathon hehe imagine the fun in running that PR campaign! er pardon the pun 🙂