What Are We Trying to Accomplish?

Why is it so much easier to talk about the means than the ends? Undoubtedly we simply prefer inventing, creating and acting to analyzing and disciplined thinking. The evidence is everywhere.

I recently attended an annual meeting of an organization where the group argued about the contents and format of an internet survey. As a newcomer, I just listened until I could stand it no longer and then I asked what they were hoping to achieve with the survey and how they had been using the data from the paper survey up until that point. Silence descended. Finally, a brave, or clueless, soul said that they just thought it would be good information to have. The argument resumed. 

Can you think of similar examples from your own experiences? Ever witnessed:

  • Plans to solve problems without first determining the cause of the problem?
  • Meetings wandering everywhere because the organizer has not established a purpose, nor have the participants asked for one?
  • Arguments over resource allocation without first determining direction and priorities?

How can anyone make good decisions without starting with a clear purpose? They can’t, of course, though sometimes they get lucky.

Save yourself some time and money; keep asking over and over again:

*** “What are we trying to accomplish?” ***