The Future of Work

by Jada Balster, vice president, marketing at Workfront

Industry View from

Find time to think: reach your extraordinary goals

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 If you had more time to think at work, would you be more productive? More than 70 per cent of UK knowledge workers say they would, according to Workfront’s State of Work report.


Importantly, this isn’t just about ac­complishing more tasks. Taking time to think is also essential for smart goal setting. Workfront CEO Alex Shootman recently published a book called Done Right: How Tomorrow’s Top Leaders Get Work Done, and in it, he introduces a process for reaching extraordinary goals that I found particularly useful. The process requires careful thought, but can help you push the limits of your abilities at work.


Alex writes about four kinds of goals: clear goals, stretch goals, extraordinary goals and pipe dreams.


Clear goals set the bar at the same level you’re working at today. You just maintain the status quo. Nothing changes. Stretch goals push you to do roughly 10 per cent more on each of your major initiatives. Everything is the same – there’s just more of it. Extraordinary goals push you to do something completely different, to open yourself up to the possibility of greatly accelerated growth by doing something new. Pipe dreams are goals that are so far beyond the scope of what’s possible that pursuing them could deflate your entire team.


The intention here is for you find the sweet spot between a stretch goal and a pipe dream. If you choose a pipe dream, no one will believe success is possible so they won’t even try. If you choose a stretch goal, you might reach your goal, but you won’t stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace. That’s why the best option is to aim for the extraordinary goal.


Of course, finding the right extraordinary goal requires time to think. You can’t invent a completely new way of doing work if you’re consumed by tasks day in and day out. You have to reflect on an individual level and deliberate as a team.


Here are some questions that I’ve found useful to ask to find your extraordinary goal:

• What is our unique advantage in the marketplace? Is there a way for us to dramatically increase that advantage?

• What is the main problem we’re trying to solve? Is there a completely new way of approaching it?

• What actions are we taking just because it’s what everyone else is doing? Do we really need to do business that way, or are we just on autopilot?


The trick is to take the time and effort necessary to deeply analyse your business practices, asking yourself again and again whether you’re caught in a loop of achieving clear goals or whether you’re actually making enormous strides toward real business success.


So before you rattle off next year’s KPIs, carve out time for your team to think. Spend your time getting your goal right, and you’ll end up doing what matters most instead of doing tasks that may or may not add up to what you actually need to achieve.



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