Taking measured steps

May 29, 2009

I know the theory of goal-setting, but it’s a very different thing to live it. As mentioned in a previous blog, I am participating in the Global Corporate Challenge, in which teams of 7 people aim to take 10,000 steps a day.

We are all rediscovering how powerful having a goal can be. Team members start engaging in some very odd behaviours to get their steps up. One member describes jigging up and down in front of her computer at midnight waiting for a literature search to complete. Any opportunity to lift the daily steps score. I have been seen marching up and down the hallway at home just before bedtime trying to get in another 500 steps. My husband is both bemused and amused. “Why don’t you just cheat?” he asks. He also suggests helpfully that I tape my pedometer to the inside of my hubcap. Cheat? I couldn’t possibly. Instead I march determinedly and ridiculously up and down.

The research tells us that setting a goal leads to 16% higher output than what is achieved with the exhortation to ‘do your best’. Deming the continuous improvement guru said “What gets measured gets done.” A combination of goal-setting and measurement is certainly changing my behaviour. Perhaps its time to re-introduce this into other aspects of my life? But right now could you excuse me, I am going for a walk which will be worth at least 3,000 steps.

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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