Systems trump goals

By Shane Parrish via http://www.farnamstreetblog.com   Article

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

“Scott Adams, the famous creator of Dilbert, … has looked for examples of people who use systems versus those who use goals. In most cases, he’s discovered that people using systems do better and they are more innovative. ‘The systems-driven people have found a way to look at the familiar in new and more useful ways,’ he says in the WSJ.

If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you’re waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal. …

In the world of dieting, losing twenty pounds is a goal, but eating right is a system. In the exercise realm, running a marathon in under four hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system. In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a serial entrepreneur is a system. …

Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. …

… What you really want is a system that increases your odds of success. Even if that system only improves the odds a little it adds up over a long life. In organizations this means …that you should focus on building a system that evolves, improves, and survives ego. Systems increase the odds of getting lucky. Or, if you want to put it another way, they reduce stupidity.

Goal seekers optimize whereas systems thinkers simplify.”

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