An Alternative to Management by Objectives (MBO’s)

It’s the end of the fiscal year and your MBO’s are almost due and you start to over-analyze everything, contemplating whether you missed anything critical, and if so, you think of how to cram it into your already hectic schedule. Fear not, you’re about to get an explanation on why finalizing those MBO’s is NOT THE RIGHT ANSWER. Right about now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Well, I don’t really have a choice. My boss made MBO’s a requirement a long time ago and ever since then, we’ve had to finish them by the end of the year.” This statement indicates that you don’t have a choice. You always have a choice. If you feel strongly enough about something or strongly enough against something, your voice will be heard, but only if you speak up. The odds are not against you. Not everyone agrees with writing MBO’s but not enough people speak up about it, which is why I’d like to propose a new way of thinking. Every organization I have been a part of has mentioned SMART goals and their effectiveness. This means that your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. A conflict that I see in regards to MBO’s is that your objectives are never really going to be specific, measurable, realistic, or time based, and they might be achievable, but not without a process. These SMART goals cannot be achieved to their full potential with MBO’s because when you forecast these objectives, you don’t actually know if they are true and impartial approximations. A number of things could indeed affect these goals, for instance if you travel a lot or if you are constantly involved with customers. There is a considerable gap between the perception of these goals and reality. Take a look at anyone who ever created a grand idea, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, what made them excel? What stands out to me is that they focused on a process. They created a system, and what followed were miraculous results. Their natural system consisted of an environment where they were continually learning, challenged, and competing against several large organizations. None of these things happened by accident. Each and every individual had a vision, and they saw that vision through with a systematical process. There’s a difference between having a goal and achieving a goal. You can’t achieve a goal without a good system but you can have a good system without having an end goal. We use systems every single day whether we realize it or not. For instance, before we go into work, we have an established routine i.e. getting dressed, brushing our teeth, eating our breakfast – to finally get in the car and leave for work. Formally or informally, you have created a system that works for you and one that gets you from point A to point B in due time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t set any goals for getting to work on time. The only thing I set is my alarm. The biggest question is, if you just ignored goals and focused solely on improving systematical processes that work for you, can you still achieve successful outcomes? When you set goals so far ahead, it limits your ability to think outside of the box. I call it the empty box. For example, I know someday I would like to own a house that is completely paid off. Right now, I see this as a realistic goal, but I also see it as long-term goal, something that I will have to save lots of money for and pay off for 25 years of my life. This goal does not make me happy. This goal is essentially giving me the mindset that everything will be okay once my house is paid off. The same can be said about achieving a higher level in business like receiving a larger salary, a promotion, or even that dream job that you have always wanted. These are all example of goals that could potentially hinder you rather than help you achieve success. How is success measured anyway? In my mind, you have reached success once you are content with what you ALREADY have. What people fail to realize is that if you keep chasing goals, no matter how close or how far away they are, you will never find true happiness. I can assure you, happiness is not achieved by the next milestone, which brings me to the main point I was trying to make. You need to commit to a systematical process. By doing this, you are focusing on what is happening NOW rather than what could (could being the key word here) happen in the future. The most important thing for business is to focus on what is currently happening. Having a goal is fine, but I believe that it gives us a false perception of control. People always say, “we are headed in the right direction, because we are __% close to our goal!” The main focus of goals should be to keep track of your progress but your systems should not be dependent or even focused on those goals. It’s one thing to map out your success, but if you actually want to make progress and quite possibly achieve that end-goal, then the main focus should be on the systems that you use, which ultimately brands MBO’s as impractical solutions for measuring productivity.


My Article Made it to the AF Times =]


By SSgt Shamaine Engler

As a whole, the Unites States Air Force focuses on aspiring new Airmen as leaders. As Airmen, we are expected to live up to the standards of our core values. However, there is a distinct difference between adhering to the standard and exceeding the standard. Leadership is about exceeding the standard and going above and beyond all obstacles to become a great mentor. There are many factors and characteristics that can contribute to the success of a great leader. In order to gain a better understanding about these topics someone must learn to ask the right questions and observe the behaviors of people who currently serve in leadership roles.

One characteristic of leadership that is often overlooked is the concept of being involved as a mentor. It is easy to ignore something like this because we don’t realize how much of an impact our approaches to mentorship can have on someone. Consider this: What sets a good leader apart from a great leader? What sets them apart is his or her willingness to lead by example. Leading by example comes with practice. It is difficult to be a great leader if your peers do not respect you. Leading by example requires making a good impression in the working environ-ment and outside of work. Not only is leading by example interpreted as making a good impression, it also means following through with the Air Force Core Values. If we follow the Air Force Core Values, we are good leaders. If we follow the core values and expand on them, we are great leaders.

Followers learn about acceptable behaviors through the observation of their leaders. A great leader usually starts out as a follower. A follower listens to instructions and absorbs any important information coming from their leadership or fellow cowork-ers. It takes a lot of courage for a follower to do what is right in a bad situation. It is important for a follower to speak up when they know something is wrong. A follower should not approach the situation in a reproachful way but rather in an informative matter. When someone is put into a position where they feel obligated to say something, they should think of their core values and use them as a positive way to approach the situation. When you use the core values as an enthusiast, it will set you up for success as a leader.

As Airmen, we need to take a second look at our actions. Think of your approach to leadership, whether it is direct, in-directive, or both. With this, keep in mind that not everyone’s approach is the same. The way you perceive something may not be the way another person sees it. For instance, a supervisor can assign an Airman with a task and expect the task to be completed to their standards. However, if the supervisor does not give a specific definition of the task, the results are often insufficient. A super-visor should provide an Airman with clear instructions and the proper materials to complete the task that was given to them. An-other example of a bad approach to leadership is lack of communication or misunderstood communication. There is a fine line between communication and misunderstood communication. What we say can often be misinterpreted as a different meaning than the original idea. It is essential to help people understand the literal meaning of our words. This is where the directive approach in leadership may come in handy. When you are direct with someone it eliminates confusion, avoiding misinterpretation.

It is very important to be cognizant of others and it is fundamental to observe the people around us. Not only do our ac-tions and words have a direct bearing on the people that surround us; they also influence the direction of our character. Leaders’ actions set an unspoken standard about what is appropriate and what is not. In order to succeed as great leaders, we must commit to a challenge greater than ourselves. In order to be respected as a leader, it is essential to be approachable, consistent, positive, and encouraging.

There are many things that will contribute to the progression of a leader. Becoming a mentor is part of the process in becoming a great leader. Being a mentor means understanding how to be involved as both a leader and a follower, acting properly in a professional environment, actively listening and engaging in a conversation, and clearly stating their opinions and directives. Every great leader has a mentor because a mentor serves as a guide for their future accomplishments. The reason for this is because a mentor cares about their fellow Airmen and goes out of his or her way to see that they get the best possible chance to fulfill their career potential. A mentor leads by example; they are one of the stepping-stones to the foundation of leadership.


My Inner Monster: XLVIII

I was at the lowest point I had ever been. I felt numb; not the kind of numb feeling you get from drinking alcohol or filling your body with intoxicants as a substitute for happiness. This wasn’t the sensation of temporary fulfillment. I was in the consciousness of momentary anguish. As intrigued as I was, compelling subsidiary feelings of anger and grief also surrounded me. I was stuck in a pit, one I had dug myself. I dug it so deep that I couldn’t find a way back out of it. I hadn’t given myself an alternative escape route and I hadn’t provided myself with a rope; meaning, I had no way out of this place of desolation. I whispered thoughts to myself. My whispers turned into screams. I screamed as loud as I could, hoping someone would hear me. Surely, there had to be someone that could hear my cries, a person who would yell at me from above the ground. I didn’t have an ounce of sanity left. I hadn’t the slightest clue as to what was going on with me. All I knew was that I had to dig myself out of this mess. In that inconsolable moment, I compared myself to the historical biblical figure, Daniel, who was thrown into the lion’s den. Though I didn’t have lions prowling in the midst of the pit, I did have upsetting thoughts that surrounded me, waiting to destroy me piece by piece. I got out of this one alive. I wasn’t handed any rope, just justification. I dug the pit myself; so finding rope wasn’t the simplest answer to getting out. The answer was to dig until I no longer saw the darkness. I dug until I saw a shimmer of light. That small sliver of light gave me hope. I don’t know where it came from or what led me to keep digging. But I finally got through it. When I reached the opening of the tunnel, I realized that all of the questions I had about the meaning of life of, in my lowest state of consciousness, wouldn’t go unanswered. At that moment, I knew that my life would make sense. It hadn’t made much sense before, but something was different. I understood how my conscious and subconscious mind worked. I learned to meditate and let my elusive genius flow freely. I learned from this incident that I couldn’t force productivity. I can’t force creativity. I can’t force happiness. I can’t force genius. I also learned that I couldn’t just sit around hoping for a bigger purpose. I have to create it. I had questioned my motives and was beginning to think that there was no point of living. But there is. There is always a reason. You just have to find it. It may take you five minutes or ten years. But every life is worth fighting for, even if you are battling hopelessness.


Technology: XLVI

It’s remarkable how easy it is to compare our bodies to some sort of technology that has been created. Technology makes so much more sense now. If you compare a piece of technology to how the human body works, you would be surprised at the results.

As I was driving home, I thought of our lives in comparison to a moving vehicle. Our hands are like the steering wheel, our feet represent the gas, breaks, and clutch, our eyes are like the headlights, our hearts are like the engine, and our brains are like the fuel for the engine. Each of these parts are very significant. One can’t run without the other. It’s obvious that a car runs on fuel. The moving piston allows the fuel to enter the intake valve, and as the intake valve opens, the piston moves down, allowing the fuel to get to the engine. Our brains work in a similar way. The brain is in charge of information processing, which controls our central nervous system. Like fuel to an engine, our brains are fuel to our thoughts, movements, plus the conscious and unconscious aspects of our lives. Our hands allow us to do a variety of tasks. Our legs move us along. Our eyes help us see what is in front of us. But we can’t do any of that without our brain. The same goes for a car. Unless it’s an electric vehicle or someone is actually pushing the car, it can’t move without fuel to the engine. Today, technology is so profound that our sound and movement can make something work. It’s easy to see that technology is leaning more towards functioning like the human body. This scares me. We are far beyond manufacturing of vehicles. The human body is significant. It’s no wonder that scientists and technicians are trying to mimic it by creating robots that can look and function like humans.

I recently watched a movie about a guy who falls in love with his new operating system. The operating system was programmed in a way that allows the system to imitate the human brain. In the movie, the operating system begins to believe it has feelings for the user. But those feelings obviously weren’t real; they were just facts and information implemented in the programming. The movie made me realize that some people will never be satisfied with just humans. They will always strive to reach a new level of technology. Why make a robot that can function as a human if we already have more than capable human beings? I understand that most people’s intentions are to create technology that can help another human. Nevertheless, if a human can create a robot, then that proves that the human brain is more intelligent than any man-made creation. Even if robots created other robots, the human brain was still responsible for the first design.


Hope: XLV

Hoping for something is almost unavoidable. It is subconsciously deep-rooted in our brains. While some people may believe that hoping for something will get you nowhere, I believe that hope is the very foundation for success. Sure, there are many other things that contribute to success. Nevertheless, there is a difference between hope and false hope. Hope can represent different ideas for different people. For instance, I like to think of hope as a boost of confidence. It temporarily helps me see past the obstacles I may face, eliminating fear. Though fear is good to have in some situations, it can also hinder you at times. For example, when I get in front of a crowd, the second I let myself believe that I am afraid, my confidence goes from ten to zero. I get nervous and I immediately lose the courage I had when I stepped up to the podium. In this occurrence, hope can be very valuable. People may argue that it isn’t hope that brought forth that courage, that it was indeed confidence. There is a difference between hope and confidence. When you are confident about something, you are confident in the ability to do what you do. In some cases, you can even pretend to have confidence, hence the statement “fake it till you make it.” When you are hoping for something, you know you aren’t confident with the subject but you are willing to look past that and hope for the best. Having hope challenges someone. It challenges you to look past the achievable and aim higher. Having false hope is something a bit different. False hope is something that is entirely unrealistic, a hope that has no comprehensible
chance of coming to life at its peak.


Moral Values: XLIV

What defines our moral values? For myself, if I feel guilty after doing something, I would classify it as a bad judgment in my case. If I don’t feel guilty about something, then I would classify it as a good judgment on my part. Is this really the way to classify our morals? How are the characteristics of good and evil determined? Who sets the standard?

Today I found myself in the midst of many Facebook agitations. While one would describe the typical Facebook troll as a prowler, who crushes his adversarial computerists with height defining formulations by adding gibberish to the already unnecessary posts, I would simply use the word “creeper.” Have we really come to this? Has the world forgotten the sacredness of privacy? It seems as if privacy is an irrelevant matter at this point in time. There honestly isn’t any point of safeguarding whatever electronic equipment you may have. You can’t block everyone from everything. Unless you plan to pack your bags and live in the middle of the woods with no form of electronic devices, or unless you are a hacker, you’re not as safe as you think you are. It doesn’t matter how much work you put into blocking or hiding your information. People already have your information. It’s true. There is no point of privacy anymore because its been taking away so abruptly. In hindsight of that aspect, the best thing you can do is become more aware of your surroundings. You would be surprised with how much you can observe if you really tried.


Decisions: XLIII

Why are decisions so easy for some people to make and so hard for others?

As Theodore Roosevelt said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” In recollection of that, sometimes doing the right thing isn’t as simple as not doing anything at all. It’s easier to ignore a problem than to solve it. Which is why I am currently in the processes of learning how to face my challenges head on. Part of this includes making tough decisions. How can I better myself if I can’t make decisions? I see a decision as a conflict, when really I should see it as a solution. If I think too hard about the decision, I will end up talking myself out of going through with it. Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith. You won’t know what will come of the decision unless you make it. If you are constantly turning to other people for advice, then you will constantly blame yourself for not being able to make your own decisions. Other peoples opinions are just guides for your well-being. But how well is your being if you are listening to their advice? Are people so scared to make their own decisions that they put their fate into someone else’s hands? That’s completely impractical. We should be taking the blame for all of our choices. We shouldn’t be so quick to point the finger. Decisions aren’t easy because ultimately, they shape your life and where you end up. No one can predict the consequences that may come from a decision that is made. On the contrary to Roosevelt’s statement, sometimes, there is no right decision. At times, either route can lead you in the wrong direction. The only way you got there was because the decisions you made beforehand had a direct influence on the obstacles you face now. We tend to doubt ourselves. We always question our decisions and the motives behind them. Take the time to think about your options. For there is a sense of relief when you know you made the right decision.