11 Sep

A Whole New Engineer Ready for Pre-Order on Amazon & 800-CEO-READ

The book, A Whole New Engineer: The Coming Revolution in Engineering Education is available for pre-order on Amazon or for bulk orders at  800CEOread.com.

  • Amazon: Pre-order here.
  • 800-CEO-Read: Bulk-order here

See the link here about the making of the book (here), a press release from Olin College (here), and an early review of the book by Gary Bertoline at Purdue University (here).  

For more information about the book write to Dave Goldberg (deg@threejoy.com).

22 Aug

The puzzle of career women who hesitate

 Why are professional women

still hitting a glass ceiling?

Lately I keep finding myself in conversations about how a surprising number of women aren’t moving confidently into leadership within their careers. I’ve heard some worries from my executive coaching clients, but often the topic has come up at social or business events.

For me it’s a puzzle: why is it that so many terrific professional women are still struggling with issues we thought we’d be able to put to rest back in the 80s and 90s?

This doesn’t seem to be just an us-against-them, women-versus-men thing. I’ve heard insightful men express concern that too few women are reaching their full professional potential. For example, two male professors recently asked me why their star female students seem to have lower job aspirations than their less qualified male classmates?

And in recent months, both at formal industry conferences and in casual chats, some of the most accomplished American women journalists have been talking about how leading newsrooms still seem to be dominated by a male culture. This seems to be the case, in both print and digital realms, despite the fact university journalism programs often have more women than men students.

Also, disturbingly, young women in several career discussions this spring told me they feel more threatened than supported by women who are senior to them in their organizational hierarchies. They look to men and generational peers, they said, want they want mentoring.

Part of the problem may relate back to those of us who were among the early women to enter many professions. I was the first woman in Ohio University’s MBA program in the 1970s. And later I joined the first big wave of women who went to Georgetown Law School, and then on to Washington law firms. It was wonderful and exciting, but sometimes it was frightening as well. And the experience left scars.

Even where there was no hazing or explicit double standard, it could be exhausting and bewildering to join male teams where we weren’t really wanted. As a result, despite years of achievement, some “old girls” still experience surprising lapses in confidence. It can show up in little ways, such as: Read More »

23 Jul

Lost in translation: 3 lessons from the term “assessment”

I am writing this from Atlanta Hartsfield Airport (ATL), returning from a delightful session with approximately 40 faculty members at Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM) in Valparaiso, Chile on “From I Know to We Trust & Beyond: Deep Faculty Development in an Uncertain & Creative Era.”  The program was sponsored by LASPAU at Harvard, and this was the second time I had worked in this program at UTFSM. One of the nice things about working in another country is it helps you notice the assumptions built into your own culture and language.  The session was translated simultaneously from English to Spanish (and vice versa), and an issue came up around the Spanish term for assessment

Assessment was being translated as evaluación (or evaluation), and the distinction that I was trying to make was the usual coaching and speech acts distinction between an assertion, a speech act committed to expression of truth, and an a assessment, a speech act expressing an opinion, interpretation.  There was a trained coach among the faculty attending the course and he wondered whether a better translation wouldn’t have juicio (judgment).  This led to a fairly lengthy clarification of the intended usage of the terms, which was helpful to the group in pursuing our work together.

In reflecting on the episode, I think there are three lessons to be learned, and here I move from particular to general.

Lesson 1: Separating assertions and assessments is critical to improving communication.  The main intent of the session was to help the group understand how assessment-laden our speech and stories are and that understanding that others may have other interpretations of what’s going on is an early awareness that can help improve communication, fairly immediately.  The session reinforced this lesson, and the additional emphasis brought about by being slightly “lost in translation” for a time was helpful to increasing understanding, I believe.

Lesson 2: Distinguishing between assessments and judgments is also a communication-improving move.  Discussing the translation of “assessment” as juicio was also useful part of the episode.  All judgments are assessments, but not all assessments are judgments.  Judgments contain a sense of correctness (right/wrong) and prescription that ordinary assessments need not have.  As Marilee Adams points out in her choice map, once we are in judgment it is difficult to be open enough to learn or gain additional perspective.  This doesn’t make judgment a bad thing; it simply suggests judging is a choice, and if has become a reflex, it may not be serving us as well as a more judicious spectrum of assessment.

Lesson 3: We attach our normal sense of term to others’ usage at our peril.  As this episode unfolded, I was a bit puzzled at first.  I had been fairly careful to define my terms fairly carefully and give the sense of the terms assessment and assertion that I intended.  Nonetheless, language is loaded, and we all use and interpret terms according to our own sense of them.  Within a particular discipline this can be a useful shortcut to mutual understanding, but if we are learning something new outside of the boundaries of our usual experience and knowledge, assuming that our private sense of a term can be a prescription for misunderstanding.  In a coaching setting, a coach will almost always ask a client what they mean by the particular usage of a term, rather than assuming the coach understands the sense of a term.  In a multidisciplinary setting or in a learning setting, being curious about how language is being used is an important step toward accelerating understanding and achieving shared meaning with others.

As the methodology of coaching migrates from corporate practice to the university and the classroom, these three lessons will become increasingly salient and important as ways for students and faculty to understand each other.

24 Jun

7 languages for educational transformation


Coming home on a long flight I was reading Kegan and Lahey’s book How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation.  In working as a coach, the power of language, story, and reframing is hard to overestimate.  As clients work to change, the role of talking differently about themselves and others is often a key element to making the changes they say they want to achieve.  

What We Want & What We’ll Do to Keep from Getting It

What clients “say they want to achieve” is one thing.  What they will do to keep from getting it is critical here and is is driven home in the book in the introduction.  There, the authors quote Harvard colleague William Perry as follows:

“Whenever someone comes to me for help, I listen very hard and ask myself, `What does this person really want-and what will they do to keep from getting it? ‘ ”  

In change, the major obstacles to change are often internal, not external, and the client’s own actions against his or her own stated interests are often obstacle one.

7 Languages for Transformation

The book discusses 7 shifts in language as follows:

  1. From the Language of Complaint to the Language of Commitment
  2. From the Language of Blame to the Language of Personal Responsibility
  3. From the Language of New Year’s Resolutions to the Language of Competing Commitments: Diagnosing the Immunity to Change
  4. From the Language of Big Assumptions That Hold Us to the Language of Assumptions We Hold: Disturbing the Immunity to Change
  5. From the Language of Prizes and Praising to the Language of Ongoing Regard
  6. From the Language of Rules and Policies to the Language of Public Agreement
  7. From the Language of Constructive Criticism to the Language of Deconstructive Criticism

The choice of complaints to commitments as the first shift is an interesting one.  It can be an important first step away from playing “ain’t it awful” with oneself, one’s colleagues and co-workers and toward making clear requests, commitments, and agreements toward actions that matter.   

Educational transformation is a difficult undertaking.  Reading this book and applying it’s lessons can be an important step toward utilizing language in productive ways to bring about transformation.

24 Apr

Journey to the emotional floor of A Whole New Engineer

Mark Somerville and I are wrapping up production on our book A Whole New Engineer: A Surprising Emotional Journey (see more here), and I was reflecting on large writing projects such as books and how easy it is to underestimate the amount of work required and the amount of learning that goes on in writing one.  The tendency is to think, “This will be easy. I’ll just write down what I know about subject X and it will be good.”  Of course, you start the project, and find that (a) you didn’t know as much as you thought you did, and (b) you had a lot of learning and figuring out to get to the end.  Of course, some of this is the human tendency to underestimate difficulty and overestimate capacity as pointed out in The Invisible Gorilla and related research.  If we were more realistic about the scope of such projects, few would start them.

This time, however, with A Whole New Engineer, the misestimation took on an a different flavor.  Yes, I both underestimated the task complexity and learning required, but this time I also missed the deeper nature of the task.  In the past, what started as largely a textbook or monograph project turned out that way.  This time, I thought Mark and I were writing a how-to manual on engineering education reform with some personal anecdotes, but the deeper nature of the project didn’t reveal itself until we were well into the project.

And the subtitle, A Surprising Emotional Journey, starts to characterize the book we found inside of us.  As we started to tell the stories of what happened at Olin (www.olin.edu) and iFoundry (www.ifoundry.illinois.edu), we started to recognize that the usual rational code words used to describe educational reform (content, curriculum, pedagogy, learning outcomes, active learning, project-based learning, etc., etc.) were inadequate to describe the underlying experience of authentic reform.

Instead, we needed to admit that the secret sauce to both efforts was profoundly emotional in nature and that words like “trust,” “courage,” “joy,” “connection,” and “openness” (the pillars of Chapter 5) were necessary to convey and understand the experience.  And this was excruciatingly hard for a couple of engineers to grok, but once we did, we knew there was no going back.  Those distinctions sounded like were talking about the underlying essence of authentic reform in foundational terms in a way that previous descriptions lacked.

And once we reached the emotional floor of the enterprise, we recognized that many of our colleagues would have the same difficulty we originally had in accepting and understanding this emotional language, that the natural tendency would be to reject these terms as “too soft” or “insufficiently rigorous” and to retreat to easy and safe words like “content,” “pedagogy,” “X learning (where X = active, experiential, project-based, etc.).  Nevertheless, once the journey had come to this place, we knew that our job was to tell the travelogue as we had experienced it, as we had felt it.

And we hope that this is one of the lasting contributions of the book: to shift a discussion that continues to be held in largely rational terms to one that can unapologetically use the language of emotion in ways that contribute to a more effective and holistic educational system.

A Whole New Engineer: A Surprising Emotional Journey will be ready in Fall 2014.  Keep an eye on www.bigbeacon.org/book on twitter @deg511, @threejoy, and @bigbeacon, or write to me at deg@threejoy.com or deg@bigbeacon.org about hosting book-related talks, workshops, and events. 

1 Apr

Top 5 regrets of the dying

I was doing my morning tweet practice of inspirational quotes, and I came across a quote, which I posted:

“The same view you look at every day, the same life, can become something brand new by focusing on its gifts rather than the negative aspects. Perspective is your own choice and the best way to shift that perspective is through gratitude, by acknowledging and appreciating the positives.” 
― Bronnie Ware @goodreads

I noticed that the quote was from a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed (book here), and I quickly found a summary HuffPo piece here.  The insights come from Bronnie Ware’s work with the terminally ill.  The five regrets are expressed as wishes, and I reproduce them in capsule form below:

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
  2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
  3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
  4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
  5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

Many of these regrets or wishes are part and parcel of coaching work.  Authenticity, work-life balance, emotional awareness & expression, connection, and the realization that happiness is a choice of guided by the quality of our awareness and framing of our thoughts and feelings about what happens are the text or sub-text of many, if not most, coaching conversations.  

Seeing the five in such stark relief has me wanting me to go grab my journal and reflect on the five wishes and my own life.  Which of the five regrets would be yours if you were suddenly to find yourself at death’s door?

3 Mar

The university as Apollo + Dionysus: A bureaucracy with stars & status amplification

gods-of-managementThere are many challenges in navigating the transformation of education in the 21st century.  Key among these is the movement from an educational culture of expertise in which disciplinary lecturers impart their knowledge to obedient students who listen, to a more collaborative community of learners in which broadly aware and educated coaches trust and unleash self-motivated learners in service to the learners’ educations and lives. This would be challenging enough, but in making such major shifts in educational culture, the organizational cultural challenges of university life are themselves remarkably daunting.

The Gods of Management

One of my favorite organizational books is Charles Handy’s 1978 text Gods of Management
 (nice summary here). In it he talks about the importance of culture in understanding organizations, and to make his point, he calls out four cultures:

  • Club or Zeus
  • Project (Problem solving) or Athena
  • Bureaucratic or Apollo
  • Existential (Star) or Dionysus

In a club culture, a single figure, the Zeus, often the founder, has great knowledge and knowhow about how to get things done.  VC firms and private equity firms are often organized around Zeus.  Members of the organization have one question to answer in making decisions about their own contact: “What would Zeus do?” Zeus cultures are effective in fast-moving environments where good-enough decisions must be made quickly and well.

The culture of Athena is a project or problem-solving culture.  Teams of experts work together to find and solve problems.  Engineering firms and other consultancies worship at the altar of Athena. They are fairly costly, but they are effective at tackling a discreet challenge.

The culture of Apollo is a culture  that excels at doing routine tasks.  A culture of rules and procedures, it can seem impersonal at times, but it will help yesterday happen today and tomorrow and the next day fairly reliably.

The culture of Dionysus is the star or existential culture.  In Hollywood and hospitals, for example, movie stars and doctors are treated as the central and valuable figure they are.  They aren’t particularly coherent cultures,  and they tend to spend a fair amount of effort assuaging the egos of the stars; they do, however, effectively utilize the stars in the special roles they play. 

What Gods Universities?

When we look at this typology, and think about universities, it’s a fairly interesting exercise to reflect about the Handian culture of universities.  Apollo comes to mind immediately.  Anyone who has worked 15 minutes in a university is struck by the rules and regulations, governance, & concern with process to the point, sometimes, that it is hard to understand how much education or research gets done.  

But another few minutes of reflection and we realize that the culture is far from pure.  Universities, are concerned with hiring and assuaging star research professors, and our minds drift to Dionysus and the star culture.  

This is an interesting hybrid (hospitals are also this hybrid), and many of leadership breakdowns of universities can be understood as the culture clash between Dionysus and Apollo.

Stars vs. Rules -> Status Amplification

There are many ways in which this culture class can express itself, but here let’s focus on just one.  The rule following part of the culture is relatively insensitive to status, and goes about its business, enforcing its rules and procedures, but the dynamic thereafter is interesting.  Stars perturbed by some impersonal enforcement of the rules believe they are exceptional and demand special treatment, usually from the department head.  And herein is the interesting part.

A main function of a department head is to determine which of these demands should be accommodated and which can safely be ignored. Nowhere does it say in department head training that this is the case, but much of the limited discretion a department head has is in this domain (and in hiring the stars).  The functional result is that certain faculty members receive special treatment outside what the bureaucracy routinely offers.  The end result is a heightened status hierarchy with a greater sense of privilege and entitlement for those chosen to receive the special treatment, and a greater sense of resentment among those who do not.  And given that the backdrop for those who don’t receive special treatment is impersonal treatment by a callous bureaucracy, the contrast can be stark. 

Implications for Administrators & Change

Simply having a model of the culture class may be helpful to effective administration of the institution.  In what ways can the bureaucracy be better trained to understand the importance of all the stars? In what ways can rules be modified to promote smoother operation and respect for the stars?  In what ways can the bureaucracy undergo continual improvement to be more efficient and effective in support of the larger culture?  In what ways can the worst effects of the status gradient be ameliorated.

Moreover, the post started by talking about change, and in trying to mount an educational initiative, a third god pops into the picture: Athena.  All initiatives are projects and to move from Apollo+Dionysus to Athena requires special care.  This issue will be taken up in a subsequent post. 

21 Feb

Is it time to strengthen your professional brand?

 What’s your brand at work?

And why does it matter? 

brandThere’s you, the essential person you are. 

 Obviously related, but not quite the same, is you — the professional who shows up on the job and makes a contribution.

 And then there’s your professional brand.

Originally a “brand” referred to a word or symbol indicating the owner or producer of a product.  Ranchers used hot irons to brand cattle.  And back when soap was usually just called “soap,” Pears Soap was named after the barber who invented a gentle cleaning bar.

As it’s used today, the term “brand” isn’t the same as a “brand name.”  In a branding effort, marketers try to distinguish a product, highlighting how its attributes differ from those of competitors. But a “brand” is an even broader concept than that, because it encompasses not just the qualities of a product but also how customers perceive those qualities.

Your professional brand is a reflection not only of you and what you do, but also of others’ assessment of your expertise, your work product and your character. Your brand can greatly impact your career opportunities and satisfaction.  And yet it might be quite different from either the real you or the high achiever you strive to be when you are on the job. 

In other words, even if you are a good person, and you work really hard, there’s no guarantee you’ll have a strong brand that differentiates you from the competition and brings you the career success you deserve.  So smart professionals manage their brands, using strategies like these:

  • Do research. When marketers want to pump up a product brand, they start by getting a handle on how the product is currently perceived.  They may conduct surveys or find other ways to collect customers’ views.  If you want to gauge your brand, gather feedback from other people.  On the job, this might take the form of a “360 review” in which your bosses, employees and colleagues are quizzed by a third party about your performance.  A simple approach is for you to simply ask people who rely on your work for suggestions about how you might be even more helpful. Or you might find a way to have one of your work products evaluated by the people who use it.  
  • Promote your work.  It is not enough to build expertise and do good work.  The next step is sharing the news about what you’ve been doing and learning.  This might mean giving speeches, writing articles or sending out progress reports. Or you can show what you know in more subtle ways, like by offering your services to someone who needs your help.  If you become more collaborative, you may have more opportunities to show off gracefully, by shining a light on the achievements of your whole team.
  • Look in the mirror.   People are more likely to regard you as successful if you present yourself as a person who is doing well.  In a professional world, your aura of success is impacted by your personal style. Whether you like it or not, people are influenced by the way you dress, and speak, and carry yourself.   Others notice if you resist change, have a bad attitude, or put your workplace look together like you don’t really care. If you feel like it’s time for a bit of a makeover, look around for people who appear energetic, polished, positive and powerful.  And consider small steps that might help you acquire some of their gloss.
  • Shape your online presence. The way you show up in an online search has become vital to your professional reputation.   If you want to set up a meeting or call, you must assume the person you’re trying to reach will Google your name.  You can’t get around this by doing nothing.  Your employer, your university and maybe your competitors have mentioned you somewhere.  And your absence from the blogosphere and other professional arenas may be regarded as saying a lot about you.  So if you don’t have a social media strategy, consider these starting with these basics:
    • Set up your LinkedIn profile.  If you can’t bear to share, you don’t have to complete everything.  You can project your brand to the world simply by typing in a few sentences in the summary section.
    • Post your work.  Do a little writing about your area of expertise.  Finding places to show off your work and share your insights has never been easier.   Online groups are eager to attract comments and many blog sites welcome guest posts.
    • Curate.  You can show what you know without creating original work.  If you choose to be a “curator,” it’s considered legit to collect and republish others’ articles, photos and info-graphics on a site like Scoop.it (of course with full attribution).

Building your professional brand does not mean being fake or manipulative.  In fact it’s the opposite.  It means becoming better attuned to how your work impacts other people, and more adept at understanding and displaying your best self.

For more reading, consider these archived items:

Strengthen your career by building your leadership brand

Code Blue: Sound like an oldster? Do you want that as your brand?

Your style is a career changer within your control


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on threejoy.com, or email Bev at: coach@clearwaysconsulting.com.

Follow Bev on Twitter. Connect with Bev on LinkedIn.


18 Feb

When there is no “we” in faculty: 4 approaches to faculty teamwork

The old saying says there is no “I” in “teamwork.”  What do you do when there is no “we” in faculty?

Since leaving the University of Illinois in December 2010, I’ve worked at a number of universities around the world to help bring transformative change to engineering education.  Transformative change and routine business as usual are very different things.  In the usual routine setting of the university, great individual performance by faculty members is expected and often delivered.  Faculty run their courses, their labs, hire and fire their graduate students and the system proceeds.  Occasionally faculty members are required to get together and “collaborate” on committees, but even there, most university committees are less teams and more like working groups, where individuals can assemble their work product relatively independently.  The situation is so common as to not require comment; however, if you are trying to bring about change in the university, the lack of teamwork chops among faculty can be a showstopper.

In change initiatives, something new is being created and oftentimes there are joint curricular and cultural decisions to make together.  In general, there is more need for common purpose, cooperation, and collaboration than in the usual routine setting, but given the lack of experience in working together faculty members are ill-equipped to interact effectively enough to get the job done.  

So what can be done?  Here we consider 4 possibilities:

Notice & acknowledge the cultural shift.  Moving from a routine, individualistic culture to a startup, team-oriented culture can be deeply disorienting and a difficult adjustment.  To notice and acknowledge the difference is the first step to doing anything about it.  Reflecting on Schein’s model of culture (here) is helpful to understanding the obstacles to shifting gears. 

Use individual performance when possible  Getting individual performers to become great team performers overnight is difficult, especially in an individualistic culture.  To the extent possible, if the task can be broken into small pieces, do so.  You’ll play to the strengths of your actors.

Go with pairwork or very small teams to start.  Going cold turkey to large teams is often too hard.  Instead move to the smallest unit of collaboration, the pair.  I’ve coined the term pairwork and written (here) about the value of using pairs and small teams in educational and interdisciplinary initiatives.  Once people get their teamwork legs under them, you can move to larger teams. 

Provide principled teamwork training.  Faculty can be rough on fluffy trainers, so give them some red meat by talking about speech acts (requests & commitments) and some simple team ground rules to help provide some structure.  Using facilitated team meetings or team coaching is another way to go, if the resources, both financial and human, are available.

Moving from “I” to “we” in a university setting isn’t easy, but there are times when it is necessary, and some of the suggestions here should be helpful to making the experience more productive.


28 Jan

Have goals? Measuring progress gets you there faster!

 Step 1: Set clear goals.

Step 2: Choose metrics.

 measureDo you have professional and other goals in mind for the year?  For the future? So what’s your plan?

 It can be motivating to have a broad, enticing vision, but it can also be daunting.  Sometimes people put off their biggest objectives and most exciting projects because they don’t even know where to begin.

 To get started and keep moving toward your goals, think about ways to establish specific benchmarks and measure your progress.  For example, if you propose to write a book, you might commit to writing a certain number of words each week or month.

Maybe you are one of those folks who have heard about the power of measurable goals more times than you can count. But you’re still not convinced.  Maybe metrics strike you as time-consuming or boring, or you think some values can’t be quantified?  Before you give up on the idea of making your goals measurable, consider these points:

  • Measuring creates awareness.  If you regularly measure something, you tend to keep it in mind.  So if you’re trying to develop a habit, coming up with and applying a metric will help you to keep on the path.   For example, research says that if you decide to eat less in order to lose pounds, you are more likely to stick to your diet if you regularly weigh yourself and chart your weight.   And it’s the same for organizations.  Studies suggest that, in businesses, government units and non-profits, attention tends to focus on the things that get evaluated.
  • Quantity can lead to quality.  When you count positive steps, you are likely to take more of them.  And the more you practice an activity, the better you get at it.  One of the first in a series of books focused on the power of practice is Geoff Colvin’s ““>Talent Is Overrated.”  Colvin examined research about “what really separates world-class performers from everybody else.”  He concluded that great performers — whether in music, sports or business — are the ones who practice intensely.  Quantity doesn’t always lead to quality, but often the more times you do something, the more you learn.  And when learning is involved, quantity leads to quality.
  • Measurement can foster self-control.  “If you can measure it, you can manage it.”  That quote is often attributed to management guru Peter Drucker, but his take on measurement in the workplace was actually more nuanced.  He saw a danger that measurement “could be used to control people from the outside and above — that is, to dominate them.”  He suggested that the better use of measurement is to “make self-control possible.”  He thought metrics should be used by every manager “to appraise his own skill and performance and to work systematically on improving himself.”
  • Measurement can replace micro-management.  As a coach, I’ve encountered many situations where managers want to delegate but can’t seem to do it.  Sometimes they hover annoyingly over a project because they want a better sense of how it’s going.  But when the manager and the project leader are able to come up with the right metrics, suddenly the problem disappears.  A good measurement and reporting system can create transparency.  Then it becomes easier both to solve problems and to recognize progress. And, when you begin to demonstrate your achievements, it’s easier for your manager to let go.

At times we are slow to create a measurement system because we don’t know what to measure.  It is not always easy to quantify the impact or value of your work, but the process of selecting metrics can contribute to your ultimate success.  Choosing your approach to keeping track requires you to ask important questions.  The first step may be to break a large goal into pieces.  Then you’ll want to consider which factors actually matter.

Suppose your New Year’s Resolution is to get to the office earlier.  You start to build a picture by recording your daily arrival times.   And then you begin to wonder: why is it harder to be prompt on some days than on others?  So you expand your log to record your bedtime, your hours of sleep and whether you lay out your next day’s clothes before going to bed.  You notice the patterns and eventually you change your evening routine.  You start getting out of the house sooner, and your commitment to arrive at work earlier is reinforced by that ping of pride each morning when you record the time you hit your desk.

It can be useful to experiment a bit as you choose data to show how you’re doing.  As you explore options, consider these three approaches to measuring progress toward your goals.

  • Measure progress toward actually completing the mission.  Some goals can be framed in numerical terms, which makes progress easy to chart directly.  Suppose, for example, that you want to raise your profile by energizing your blog.  It’s a simple matter to set numerical targets, like the number of posts you intend to publish this year. 
  • Count important activities.  Often major factors impacting completion of your mission are beyond your control.  So observe the things you can control.  Determine which activities are most likely to contribute to your success, and start measuring them.  For example, perhaps you are trying to attract new donors for your foundation, but economic trends may limit your success.  Get moving by identifying the most important fundraising steps toward your goal, like calling supporters and hosting events.  A direct measurement approach would count outputs from your work process, like the number of dollars raised per month.   But the measures that kick you into gear might be those that track your inputs to the process — your actions — like the number of people you call and the time you spend talking with prospects.
  • Create capacity.  Complex goals may require a staged approach to measurement.  Often you can’t start racking up actual results until you put the tools, systems and resources in place.  If your goal requires something big, like creating a task force, map out key milestones, like recruiting the team.  Your first stage of evaluation will be to monitor completion of the capacity build-out.

Want to be more strategic as you set your goals?  From the archives, here’s an ezine on thinking strategically as you set your goals.


Bev’s Tips have been arriving as a zine on Tuesday mornings about 20 times a year since 2004. For more Tips, sign up for the zine, go to the zine archive or visit Bev’s blog. We’d love to hear your comments here on threejoy.com, or email Bev at: coach@clearwaysconsulting.com.

Follow Bev on Twitter. Connect with Bev on LinkedIn.


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