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Monday, June 21, 2004

Shooting for the Moon by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble Via FC

Aspirations -- like leadership skills -- aren't always enough. Leaders must do more than motivate; they must manage,says the noted authors about modern day leadership.Aspirations are crucial because organizations never outperform their highest ambitions. Not setting a high aspiration is the same as making a commitment not to achieve anything grand.One of the most fundamental questions that managers must address is "How are things going?" If things are going well, you keep doing what you are doing. If things are going poorly, you make changes.The question of how things are going is always answered by comparing an outcome to a goal. And that is where the value of aspirations is limited. Aspirations represent very distant goals, and judging progress against them is very subjective.When a management team is unable to clearly answer the basic question of how things are going, emotion takes over. This is common in new ventures, particularly when discussions about how things are going focus strictly on aspirations. As time passes, investments increase, pressure to deliver results rise, and emotions gather force.Such emotions tend to be polarizing. Some team members will be driven by ambition. Others by fear. Some will focus on what can go right. Others will focus on what might go wrong. Suddenly, there are only two options on the table. In essence, the options are "full speed ahead" and "abandon ship."Avoiding this pattern of decision making requires that long-term aspirations are coupled with short-term expectations. The aspirations inspire, and the expectations guide. I liked this piece for its simplicity and fortrightness in the message - Vijay always fnds a way of expressing himself very clearly.
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