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A Leadership Secret: Replace Goals with Processes Using the Shared Dream

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.


I bring leadership processes that help leaders get more results faster continually. The results will come in a specific length of time. The results will go beyond what the leaders are achieving now. The results can be measured, confirmed, and used as springboards for even more results. The results can be translated into money saved/earned. The results cannot be achieved without the help of Leadership Talks. And yet ... 

Yet ... getting this big jump in results scares leaders and can lead to burnout in the people they lead.

You would think leaders would welcome such results—no such luck. Here is why: They see results as a point, not a process. 

Seeing results this way prevents you from getting the more substantial results you are capable of. Look, the results are limitless. Those who don’t know much about leadership believe in the process-reality of results. 

Let us look at the difference between a goal and a process. You have been dealing with goals and processes your whole career, but it's essential to your success to see the difference in leadership terms. 

A goal is a result or achievement toward which effort is directed. A process is a continuous series of actions or changes. A goal can hinder results. (The word goal derives from an Old English word, "gamelan,” meaning "to hinder.") A process can multiply them. 

I worked with the head of manufacturing of a global company. Responding to relentless cost-cutting pressures, he continually set challenging quarterly stretch goals on quality and productivity. 

The line workers were meeting the goals, but upon reaching one summit of purposes, they inevitably faced another (the following quarterly goals) and were getting burned out. 

I suggested that to avoid this burnout, they look at the results not in terms of quarterly goals but terms of processes. I gave him a two-step process to do it. 

(1) Define your goals. The manufacturing division had to deliver numbers to corporate, productivity increases, quality advancements, etc. Those numbers were goals they had to meet absolutely. Meeting them was vital to their jobs and careers. 

Viewing them as the right goals and adhering to their commitment to meet those goals are necessary first steps in translating those goals into processes. 

2. Apply the Shared Dream. The Shared Dream can be one of the most powerful tools in leadership. Yet few leaders I know are aware of it, if not in name, at least in activity. 

Leadership processes are the best, and the Shared Dream is one of the best. Because it is one keyway, we can translate results into strategies.

Translating results into processes involves:

- Team effort; it cannot be simply left to fate.

- The ardent commitment of all parties concerned, people cannot be left out or left behind.
 
- Continual and systematic support, evaluation, and monitoring of the processes. 
The application of the Shared Dream. 

What is the Shared Dream?

It is simply uniting your vision as a leader and the dream of the people you lead and then using the union to get impressive results.

For instance, the manufacturing division was supposed to get a 3 to 5% cost reduction per year, irrespective of inflation.

To make the yearly goals, the division had to meet quarterly benchmarks. The problem was that the cost reductions were the division's and the company's vision, not the line-workers dream.

The employee's dream, we discovered through several eased on-the-site meetings, was job security. (That was a prominent finding but one we needed to nail down with interactions with the employees.)  Lower cost overseas manufacturing was cutting into the company's margins. The threat was natural that they would close shop in the states and take the manufacturing overseas. 

So, there was a gap between the vision of the division leaders, constant cost reductions, and the dream of the division workers, job security. 

Of course, you might say that cost reduction was all about job security. But the employees did not see it that way. "That's the malarkey the suits feed us," said one worker. 

The idea was to have them move from being purposeful to being process-oriented.  That change of viewpoint needed a change of commitment.

Without a Shared Dream, with the goals not transformed into processes, people were getting burned out, going through the motions, angry, suppressing, tired, and wanting out. 

The division leader met the employees in several on-the-job meetings and talked about their dream. They produced the idea that if their manufacturing competed in the world marketplace, the best way to compete was to become a “world-class" manufacturing enterprise.

The people researched the requirements of world-class manufacturing, using top world manufacturers are benchmarks. They produced eight quantitative measures that defined "world-class."  These measurements included continual productivity and quality increases, throughput speed, etc. 

When I say "people," I mean this came from ordinary people. Representatives of workers' groups participated. 

The leaders rank, file, and implement action programs to meet those targets. Those action programs were processes. They put together a Shared Dream. They changed results into processes.

"Let's meet those targets together!" is a Shared Dream if they and you want it badly. It is not a Shared Dream if it's your vision — you must get quarterly results to increase, together, as a team. This is not a one-person game, but a team sport. The best teams truly believe in themselves and their coach.

Being authentic about this is every bit as important as the process of working with your team to get a Shared Dream.

Your vision is not motivational unless it matches their dream. Just because it is your vision does not mean it is your dream. Please do not confuse your order with their plan. A gap between vision and dream handicaps organizations. 

Here is the Shared Dream process. 
-- Define Your Vision
-- Define their dream.
-- Combine the vision and dream to get the Shared Dream.
-- Evaluate the Shared Dream.
-- Describe the rewards and punishments for achieving or failing the Shared Dream. 
-- Make the final cut at describing the Shared Dream.
-- Implement the Shared Dream as a trigger for turning goals into processes.
-– Monitor and evaluate the progress. 

One might say, "That's much trouble to go through. Why don't you tell them what they must do and make them do it?"

But that is the point. You are ordering them. It is far different about results outcomes than motivating themselves to make it happen. And it will not happen unless you go through the rigorous process of turning their goals into processes using the Shared Dream.


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