Goal Based Conversations

I find myself asking my children with great frequency, “What is your goal?” Not in a philosophical “What are you going to do with your life” way, but in a “What could your goal be aside from making your sister cry” way.

I want my children to grow up understanding that what they do and what they say will impact those around them, and that they should carefully consider what they are trying to achieve and ensure that they are behaving in such a manner as to achieve it. I would also love to turn dirt into gold, but that isn’t working out either. I will, however, get back on topic as this is not a parenting blog.

Understanding what your goal is and behaving in such a manner as to be able to achieve it is a tremendous asset to an Enterprise Architect. We have witnessed countless discussions and meetings spiral off topic and out of control as participants argued to defend the correctness of the details of their own position to the detriment of moving toward the overarching goal. Achieving maximum success in one’s career and in one’s life is about setting goals and behaving in a manner that gets one closer to those goals. It is not about always being right!

A goal based conversation is nothing more than one of the many interactions we have with stakeholders on the road to ratifying a design. Here are some tips for goal based conversations:

  1. Be clear on your goal. If you aren’t clear what you are trying to achieve, you can’t possibly achieve it.
  2. Don’t get caught up in winning or being right. It is all about achieving your goal. Anything else is a distraction, including taking a personal stake in the outcome. This is a common mistake. It is easy to get defensive about work you have done.
  3. “Just the facts, ma’am”. Have a pros and cons discussion based on facts.
  4. Know when to accept a minor victory. Not every battle is worth a last stand.

See Systems Flow’s publications or other articles on diplomacy for more on our “special sauce”, and contact us if you want to learn!

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Dan Hughes

Was a principal consultant at Systems Flow, Inc.

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