Learn to create appropriate stretch goals in ways where high stakes pull a team together rather than tear them apart.
- I lead expeditions in the wilderness with executives and military veterans all over the world. They're harsh tests intended to push people from their comfort zone so they can reflect on what's next. On a glacier in Patagonia, a veteran once yelled, "We're at the PONR!" The point of no return. We're in the middle of nowhere. What a PONR really means is the stakes are extremely high. On a glacier, if anyone gets sick or injured, the evacuation will be arduous to say the least. PONRs are no coming back commitments, goals so big they terrify you. When we push ourselves and our team to the limit, it changes everyone. The key is to create stretch goals where the high stakes pull a team together rather than tear them apart. You may be inclined to actually create the stretch goal, but remember, people support what they help create and that acceptance of your intention and direction means people need to feel their input on the goals is valued. So first, ask your team. Ask them, how can we set our own PONR, point of no return goals, to create a new path forward? The direction might not be debatable, but how the objective is approached can and should be. This requires facilitating a discussion rather than feigning a discussion as a way to get your way. Second, slow down. How can the team hear the unheard so they know what to start and stop doing? Hearing the unheard is about slowing down to speed up. It's kind of like what you would see if you walked on a nature trail versus rode an ATV. For example, when looking at problems and issues, what are the root causes? If you're missing deadlines, it might be easy to think people need to work harder and be more committed. When you slow down, what you may hear is that the team is actually under-resourced or requires training to be more efficient. Lastly, have a team incentive and I am not talking monetary compensation. We are all best motivated by achievement, recognition from those we respect, and the work itself and it needs to be very clear what the reward will be and what the consequences are for failing to achieve the big hairy audacious objective. Ernest Shackleton is famous for leading an incredible adventure in Antarctica. The ad he posted simply said, "Men wanted for hazardous journey. "Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. "Safe return doubtful. "Honor and recognition in event of success." Are your goals heroic enough? What's your PONR?