Management by Objectives (MBO) is No Longer Enough

Management by objectives (MBO) is a popular approach that worked well for many years. But for organizations that aspire to be the best in today’s complex, it is no longer enough.

Imagine a soccer coach that aspired to win the World Cup. Could that coach assemble talented players, give them a clear set of objectives, provide no coaching, and expect the players to team effectively and win?  We all know how absurd it would be to manage by objectives in sports. But this is exactly what we do in business.

A winning coach ensures his players undertake a program of deliberate practice.  They must get into top condition and learn to play together as a high-performing team.  Under pressure, they must need to learn to stay relaxed and alert and perform together “in the zone.”

This is also exactly what is needed in business today. Under pressure, we need to perform together at our best. And to do this requires a high level of personal and team excellence.  It requires that you know yourself, you observe yourself in action in real-time, you increasingly act from your best self, and you constantly grow and develop.  This requires deliberate practice.

Taking Action: Begin by coaching yourself.  Identify how you act when you are at your best, how you get in your own way, and how you shift from being in your own way to being at your best (See post on Know-Self).  Observe yourself in action when performing alone and with others and focus on acting from Best-Self more and more of the time.  Once you have experience coaching yourself you can introduce the discipline to the people who report to you.  And you can even add it to their MBO.

Posted by David Sherman

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