Dilbert helped me see the light.
The book, which is entertaining and an easy read, is really about how systems are better than goals. I am oversimplifying. But that is a big part of it. Click the image to check it out.
What I realized for the first time while reading the book is that Systems and Goals are two different ways to make progress. They are not the same. Goals have the better reputation because they are easy and apply to everything. But if you are like me, goals lead to a lot of disappointment and feelings of failure. Goals are black and white. You made it, or you did not make it. Unless you set 'baby' goals, really easy to achieve goals, you fail 80% of the time.
Systems are not black and white. And while you are failing a lot, you are supposed to fail - so that you learn something that makes your next attempt better. Let me give a marketing example.
The problem with the marketing goal is that you don't know how to get there. When you pick a methodology that doesn't get you to your goal, all you have left is frustration and a feeling of failure.
The problem with a marketing system is that you don't know where it will take you or how long until you get there. But if you keep tinkering with your system, making changes based on what you are learning, eventually you will see improvements and you can keep building on that. Nowhere along the way, although you are mostly failing, do you feel like a failure.
I prefer the system approach.
Another benefit of the system approach is that you will 'naturally' find ways to add new capabilities that make your system better. These new capabilities are obvious. You know what they are and what they will do to improve your system.
In the goal-focused arena, the idea of pursuing a new capability isn't obvious and often feels like you are abandoning your goal to chase butterflies.
Would you say you develop your projects and designs in an effective manner?
I think I did. I knew how much time I had to complete the project. I budgeted time for phases. I had lots of goals to help me stay on track. However my success rate was no better than 50%. Why was that?
- Chasing my tail in Schematics because I didn't insist on a program.
- Chasing the client's whims in Design Development.
- Re-designing in Construction Documents to fix an oversight.
It was always something. I had goals. I even had a plan. I didn't have a system.
I didn't even know what a system would look like.
Twelve years before the economy retired me, I attended The Strategic Coach workshops that Dan Sullivan developed. The prototypical attendee is a financial planner. I struggled to implement The Strategic Coach strategies because an architectural project has 100 times as many steps as a financial planning project. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it is not. My fellow attendees were dealing with seven step processes - each step described in ten words. The architectural project management system that I developed since I retired, Trello-PM, has 700 Tasks.
In The Strategic Coach I hit upon the idea of using just the Pre-Design phase as my 'business'. Pre-Design is similar in size and complexity to financial planning. So I finally learned what a system looks like. It looks like an elaborate checklist of tasks.
Goals are best for short term challenges - a week to a month.
For the long haul, forget about goals. Develop a system. The system's purpose is to constantly improve the results that you are getting. Develop a system for each thing you do.
- Code Research
- Cost Estimating
- Construction Admin
Systems allow you to stop struggling with goals and failing at achieving goals. And if you want to grow, systems help that happen. Systems become the training manual for your 1,000 or so tasks that architects need to manage.
I'm working on this for you by developing tools that organize and simplify. But don't wait for me. Get started.