There are many lessons we can take from the heroic recovery of all 33 Chilean miners last week. But one stuck with me more than any other: the clarity of the goal.

The simple and uncompromising aim of recovering all the miners as quickly and safely as possible led to the following benefits:

  1. Assigning clear accountabilities. The President and his government took overall responsibility, and the engineers welcomed the accountability for delivery.
  2. Trying alternative solutions. The aim was clear, but the team started drilling three holes simultaneously, as they weren’t sure which would succeed first.
  3. Seeking external support. The engineers enlisted the support of NASA in pursuit of the goal. They didn’t try to do everything themselves. Time was against them and they realised they could do with some outside help.
  4. A round-the-clock focus. The drilling teams had one goal, and one goal only. They weren’t distracted by a long list of other goals they had to try and achieve.

In many organisations, managers try to do too much, set unclear and equivocal goals, and then become frustrated when teams don’t rise to the challenge.

Everything comes from the clarity and simplicity of the goal you set yourself.

What’s yours?

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.