As I look at my business goals, I realize I have no idea how I can meet them. They are at odds with each other. I do not think this year is particularly unique. As I think back across multiple organizations there is a recurring theme. Management expects the impossible. Generically their demands follow a repeating pattern. The pattern includes more capability, higher quality, limited or no investment demand, unlimited reporting and flexibility, and lower costs.
The traditional response falls into one of three categories. One is passive acceptance that includes a valiant effort with less than subtle whinging (English term for a style of complaining). Another is a heroic embrace that includes passionate rhetoric, frequent meetings, and the need to find scapegoats (reasons for failure). The third is blissful business as usual. The latter is often seen as acceptance, team play, and loyalty.
I would like to suggest there is a forth option. One can acknowledge the conflicting goals, prioritize ones time and values, and solicit agreement from the interested parties. This is not the easy option. One may not succeed. Priorities change. Others change their views. Organizational realities can dictate new measures of success.
The “yet” comes in form of intent and honesty. Impossible goals are best achieved through a community. Communities find strength in shared values. They also thrive when truth is at the foundation. When one acknowledges and developed a clear statement of prioritized intent, one creates an invitation for others to knowledgably buy in. It is a powerful formula! People commit with their hearts. They know.
Possibilities begin with conflict acknowledgement. One that always emerges is time demand. In a relationship context, one writer observed that “the time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder.” (1 Corinthians 7.34)
Today’s conflicting demands do not need to remain impossible. We can help each other achieve more.