The Goal Question Context

This time of the year when the maximum number of people give up on their new year resolutions. I know many of my friends have made a resolution that they will not make any resolution. I’m glad that some of them are at least keeping that resolution. I have gone through my cycle of failures, denial and many years of “no resolution” and I have finally cracked the code of the new year resolutions. The answer is in using the framework called the Goal Question Context (GQC).

I find the framework useful to set, revise and reset goals annually and track them on a weekly basis. Some years like 2020 are special where you can make goals for the next 20, 10 or 5 years.

To have these new year resolutions and goals is a personal choice. If you have a goal then you will at least try some actions towards achieving it. The chance of achieving your goal is higher if you have one.

What is the Goal Question Context (GQC) ?

The Goal Question Context (GQC) is inspired by Victor Basili’s work on Software Metrics called GQM (Goal Question Metric).

The GQC consists of three parts.

Goal – It is the desired state. This should be unambiguous, verifiable or measurable.

Question – Mechanism to clarify the goal and refine it and derive the context

Context – Your personal context within which you want to accomplish this goal.

Broadly we can say Goal is the end toward which effort is directed: aim. One clear distinction of a goal is at any point in time you can assess whether you have achieved your goal or not. If you have not yet achieved your goal you should be able to determine are your efforts are towards achieving the goal or not.

Characteristics of a Good Goal

  • Goal should be measurable and timeboxed.
    Example 1: I should lose 5kgs in 3 months.

If this is the goal, you should make a note of your current weight (78kgs), start and end dates (01-Jan-2020 to 31-Jan-2020).

Then the goal can be written as: By 31st March 2020, I will bring my weight under 73 kgs

  • The goal should be personal.
    Unfortunately many goals most people chase are derived out of comparing with others or trying to maintain a certain level of acceptance in the society. If the goal comes out of your intrinsic desire and not due to some external source then the commitment towards the goal will be very high.

“Dont let fears of what others might think of you stand in your way” –
Ray Dalio – “Principles”

  • The goal should be important.

Though it sounds obvious, many times you have goals that are more like fashion accessories than something you need to achieve. Do not confuse your goals with your desires. In fact, desires are things that you want that will come in your way of accomplishing your goals. In life, though anyone can almost achieve anything in life, you should remember that you can not achieve everything in life. It is important that you choose wisely.

The questions and context
These two help in refining and aligning to your goals.

Let’s explore the above example

  • Goal: By 31st March 2020, I will bring my weight under 73 kgs
    Then the question to ask is

Why do you want to bring your weight under 73kgs?

I have realised that I’m feeling a bit lethargic these days, I’m also thinking of participating in a marathon, that was always my dream. I was inspired by my friend Martin, who completed a half marathon last year. I can also do it if I prepare myself.

How are you planning to achieve this goal?

I’m planning to use a two-pronged strategy. Watch out on my food intake: control my sugar intake, the quantity of food, snacking etc. and a bit of exercise. I will also start running at least twice a week.

What will or might come in your way? And what are you going to do about it?

First one is my laziness. I’m going beyond this. I really enjoy going out and in the fresh air. My travel and work schedules are big constraints. I can use them as an opportunity. Use the hotel Gym facilities, use public transport and walking.

Also, focus on eating healthy. I will also take support from Martin as my accountability buddy.

Based on these questions and answers a context can be created.

The context for my goal is to feel energetic and be a person full of energy. My mantra is “Just Do It !”

End note

The biggest benefit of doing this activity is that you slowly start knowing and understanding about yourself, your body and your mind. You will start noticing the effect of environment, space and people on you and also how you are impacts others around you.

One important final note about Goals, actions and consequence is that the goals can be achieved only through actions. When you take action you will have a first-order consequence, second-order consequence and so on.

If you decide to go for a morning jog. The first-order consequences are, getting up from the bed and sacrificing the sleep time, initial days you might also experience body/muscle pain and lack sleep.

Second-order consequence – you will feel better, health improves, you look fit. It might take a couple of days.

Another example, you might decide to take it easy and focus on enjoying life now!

First-order consequence: You experience happiness and joy, you are having a good time now. Second-order consequence: In a few years you might end up spending all your savings, may or may not have the motivation to work hard and earn.

Normally most first-order consequences which give you instant pleasure, happiness will have a negative consequence in the long run. Those which are difficult, not interesting will give long-lasting happiness later (for example learning a musical instrument).

For many years I also explored by not having goals but just enjoying the journey (the process towards achieving the goal rather than the goal itself), I did not bother about the results. The only drawback of that approach was, your full potential is not understood and most importantly there is no learning. With the Goal Question Context approach, it ensures that you enjoy the journey and also achieve the goals. Through this approach, the chances of achieving the goals are enhanced. In the worst case this framework will provide data points to analyse (through questions and context) and learn. Sometimes the learning from these experiments is as important or more important than the original goal itself.

So all ready to set new goals? What are some goals in life that you want to achieve?

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist.

If you need any support with setting your long term goals do not hesitate to contact me.

Inspiration / Credits 

Principles – Ray Dalio

GQM  – Vistor Basili

 

The monk who built his own Ferrari

 

In search of a leader 

This is a fascinating story of a servant leader’s journey in creating a company on a foundation of strong values and principles. Personally, for me, it is a completion of a “gestalt” about leadership and my search for a leader and a role model. 

Finding inspiration is difficult these days, some authentic real-life stories like these bring back the sense of direction and purpose. 

It has been a journey of 20 years of exploring various dimensions of Leadership. It was also a search for a role model, whom I can admire, relate to and learn from.

My interest in leadership was ignited during my first job at Wipro when my friend Manju, mentioned about Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. That book was fascinating and mentions about leaders, leadership and various dimensions around it. Since then I have explored various sources on leadership and their styles from Gandhi to Hitler, Dalai Lama to Steve Jobs, Read many books in the Warren Bennis series on Leadership, studied various views from Ayan Rand to some Indian mythology, attended many courses and workshops as well. 

My search came to an end when I came across the fascinating story of this Leader.

The leader is Sridhar Vembu founder and CEO of Zoho.  He started Zoho with other co-founders about 20 years back in Chennai, now it is one of the most successful software product/SAS company from India with 40 plus applications used by more than 13 million users globally. It also competes with global giants like Salesforce.

In fact, Forbes described in an article Sridhar as the “Smartest Unknown Indian Entrepreneur”. 

This finding was for me like the Santiago Shepherd boy, the protagonist of The Alchemist finding his treasure.  

Blog-SV-001

About Sridhar Vembu 

The journey of Sridhar is not a story of a bold vision and then driving it relentlessly till it is realized nor a story of breakthrough innovation and creating a billion-dollar company, or about rags to riches. But this is a story of failures and learning from those failures, it is about entrepreneurship, starting small and focusing on serving customers, this is a story of self-realization, principles, values and trust, it is about finding the reason for existence, this is about redefining the meaning of business itself.

The best part of this discovery is most people in India can relate to it.  Personally, I could relate to most of his experiences and principles.  

Sridhar did his degree in electrical engineering from IIT Madras and PhD from Princeton, it sounds like typical success formula right? But after all these qualifications he realised the real value of “education”. He concluded that the context-free education has very less value. That realisation helped Zoho in creating the Zoho University (ZU), which takes underprivileged students from the local schools and provides them the relevant training. Once the students finish their training, they are given a job in the company.  

Entrepreneurship 

There many interesting stories around Sridhar and Zoho, like not focusing on profit but focusing on delivering value, not focusing on formal qualifications while hiring etc. 

Sridhar values freedom over money, this is one of the reasons it is not externally funded.  His suggestion for entrepreneurs is also inspiring, The first, one is around bootstrapping and not taking external funding.  He gives the example of the neighbourhood vegetable vendor and how they manage their business. 

Next suggestion is starting with year -5 years, yes it takes about 5 years to learn about the business. 

The final point I noted down was around success and survival.  If you have a clear set of values and principles then if you can survive then you will succeed

My inspiration 

What I liked the most about Sridhar is, he is not perfect, his presentation style is not great, his appearance is also not stylish and he is perfectly fine with it. You can not miss the authenticity in his eyes and voice. This is what makes him special. 

After completing his PhD, he went through a phase of deep reflection, confusion and transformation. That is the genesis of his journey.  It started with a small group of people trying to start a company. In the last 20 years, the company has grown from a small company into a major corporation with more than 40 products and more than 13 million users and more than 9000 employees across the globe.   

Final note 

Sridhar has interesting views on Leadership, culture entrepreneurship, building a company, innovation, role of education. I can write a series of blogs (maybe I will do that) but let me complete this blog with the message he had shared with students of Sastra University on their 31st convocation. 

“… you have 24 hours in a day. As you grow older you realize how valuable the time is, I sometimes feel my life is over and have I done enough with it? Time is the only thing you have actually. Money can buy lots of things but it can not buy time. The quality of thinking is the only thing that separates from successful from not successful. Quality of thinking means that. What type of thoughts going on in your head? You can spend 3 hours getting angry at another person. You can spend an entire day being disappointed by something….  Those are also thoughts in our head. But those thoughts are useless thoughts….. Some good thoughts might spark some ideas and from those ideas, the actions happen. Those actions can lead you somewhere. … purge all the unproductive thoughts. Angry thoughts, resentful thoughts or sad thoughts all of these. Fill your head with quality thoughts. Learn to use your time wisely… Thank you”.  

Epilogue

The title Monk who built his own Ferrari is inspired by Robin Sharm’s Monk who sold his Ferrari.  Though Sridhar doesn’t live like a monk. He has spent millions of dollars on a team for designing and developing an indigenous microprocessor chip. That is his Ferrari. 

Personal Note:

  1. I take full responsibility for any errors, omissions and misrepresentation. As a reader, if you find any mistakes please bring it my notice and I will correct them. 
  2. Source of all the information is from the Internet. My apologies for not keeping track of all the references.
  3. If you have any other question and feedback please write to me at mithare@gmail.com  
  4. If you liked this post then please share with others. 

End quote 

“ A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something that he can understand”  – Bertand Russell 

By Raghavendra (Raghav) Mithare

———————————————————————————-

Raghavendra (Raghav) Mithare is Regional Head for ProcessWhirl Management Consulting, UK and he is based in London, he is a professional coach, Agile consultant, Speaker and aspiring writer. His interests include Leadership, Philosophy, Economics and engineering.  You can reach him at rmithare@processwhirl.com

 

Principles

IMG_20180421_074813.jpg

Principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning. The Cambridge dictionary defines this as a  basic idea or rule that explains or controls how something happens or works. Principles are more basic than policy and objectives and are meant to govern both.

Principles help organisations and individuals in navigating in the “right” direction. They are different than values. Values are subjective whereas principles are objective. They help you to navigate towards your “ true north”.

“Rather than thinking, ‘I’m right.’ I started to ask myself, ‘How do I know I’m right?’”.

Ray Dalio says “ Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.”  “Rather than thinking, ‘I’m right.’ I started to ask myself, ‘How do I know I’m right?’”. Ray Dalio is no ordinary man, founder of Bridgewaters one of the most successful and largest hedge fund management company.  

He has published the principles of life and work in his book “Principles”, here is the list my favorites from his book.

  1. Trust in Truth
  2. Realize that you have nothing to fear from the truth
  3. Be extremely open
  4. Have integrity and demand it from others
  5. Be radically transparent
  6. Don’t tolerate dishonesty
  7. Create a culture in which it is OK to make mistakes but unacceptable not to identify, Analyse and learn from them
  8. Don’t worry about looking good – worry about achieving your goals.
  9. When you experience pain, remember to reflect.
  10. Teach and reinforce the merits of mistake based learning.
  11. Be assertive and open-minded at the same time.
  12. Remember that almost everything good comes from having great people operating in a great culture.
  13. Recognize that people are built differently.
  14. Hire Right, because the penalties of hiring wrong are huge.
  15. Understand the difference between managing, micromanaging, and not managing,
  16. Put things in perspective
  17. Go back before going forward.
  18. Recognize the Power of Knowing How to deal with Not Knowing.
  19. Remember that the Root cause is the reason, not the action.
  20. Understand and connect the dots.
  21. Don’t try to please everyone.

Out of the above #1 and #12 are my favorites. What principles resonate with you?

————————————————————————————————————

Here are the selected References.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/

http://www.businessdictionary.com/

https://www.bridgewater.com/

https://www.principles.com/

Raghavendra (Raghav) Mithare is a consultant and coach at ProcessWhril Management Consulting, based in London.  (rmithare@processwhirl.com)