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What goals and how goals – part 2

Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 10, 2009

Way back in mid-January I posted about the distinction that sports psychologists make between outcome goals and process goals.  In a nutshell, focusing on winning a race (an outcome goal) can be counterproductive because everyone else has the same goal and simply wanting to win clearly doesn’t guarantee that you will.  It’s much better, they argue, to focus on the things you need to do to maximise performance (process goals). 

Here’s the excellent Oliver Burkeman making similar points with better examples in his Guardian column last Saturday.

Posted in management, planning, psychology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

What Goals and How Goals

Posted by Andrew Cooper on January 18, 2009

adlington

Someone who has just achieved an objective goal

Last summer the UK experienced a rare fortnight of success in sport.  Having only won nine gold medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and a total of 30 altogether, we had no great expectations of success in 2008.  Instead ‘Team GB’ (a moniker which can only have  been picked to annnoy the Northern Irish) won a total of 19 golds and 47 in total.  Rather astonishingly, we finished fourth in the medal tables.  Most of the residents of these islands experienced a growing sense of disbelief as the medal tally grew.

There are a number of possible explanations for this dramatic improvement.  Our team focussed its resources onsports it was good at, in particular the ‘sitting down’ sports: rowing, cycling, sailing and so on.  

It was also interesting to listen to the competitors talking about their success.   Some of them talked about the sports psychology that had been applied by their coaches.  In particular they mentioned the distinction between process goals and objective goals.  An objective goal would be to win a heat or to win a medal.  Focussing on an objective like this can be stressful and unproductive, particularly given that its reasonably certain that every other competitor in a given event will have the same goal.

Process goals are to do with the ways in which success if achieved.  Sticking to a particular training regime, improving technique, achieving a target weight and so on.  I remember one athlete talking about the fact that process goals were about things she could influence directly: she could determine whether or not she achieved her process goals.   She found this much more helpful than focussing on winning per se.

A lot has been written about the topic of process and objective goals.  This simple idea rang lots of bells with me because I have for many years thought in terms of ‘whats’ (aka, amongst other things, objectives’) and ‘hows’ (aka, amongst other things, processes).  Also, I’m a big fan of simple ideas.  

(Incidentally, one of the items that my Googling into this topic threw up was this astonishingly accurate forecast.) 

 

 

Part of

Posted in Change, management, planning, psychology | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Changes to the blog and an excellent comment

Posted by Andrew Cooper on September 13, 2008

Regular visitors will notice that I’m using a new WordPress theme – hopefully it will make navigation a bit easier.  On the day I changed the layout, I received an excellent comment on the ‘business of generals and a famous mountain‘ post.  As I noted in the new ‘sticky’ introduction, this blog is mainly for me but it’s wonderful to see another mind dropping in like this out of the blue.  If you are Tanzanian (or, like me, someone who loves Tanzania) be sure to visit Tanzania Meet, a forum to which the comment provides a link.

Here’s another photo of Tanzania: the Indian Ocean at sunrise with a cumulonimbus cloud drifting over Dar es Salaam and depositing large quantities of rain.

Posted in Kilimanjaro, management, systems thinking, Tanzania, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »