Why Micromanage Goals Instead Of People?



In our article on What Constitutes Effective Change in an Organization? we established that:


“Micro-goals are mostly seen as fixed deliverables, but the malleability of the smallest parts defines the malleability of the whole.”


We can agree that balance is key to any successful endeavor. This isn’t any different for micromanagement, a practice that accumulated a questionable reputation over the years. Understandably so.


What Is Wrong With Micromanagement?


Micromanagement isn’t bad by its core meaning. Like with global famine and tsunamis, it takes some thinking to spot the positive side of the story.


It is necessary to manage the fragments of what creates a collective whole, and this also true for large organizations. The problem we face is an imbalance. Service or product-centered companies continue to micromanage the people responsible to deliver incremental goals, ones that are formulated to reach an ever-evolving vision.


To meet such a vision, the deconstructed goals must also be given room to evolve on a smaller scale. The more wiggle room within the parameters of the organization’s product or service-oriented goal, the greater the possibility for innovation.


How is a service or product-centered company supposed to meet the demands of a continuously changing vision, if micromanagement efforts are disproportionately directed towards the individuals working on them?


They can’t, and won’t.


By reducing the exertion of such efforts on babysitting individuals who, given adequate training, are able to function as creative autonomous innovators (CAI) in their given fields, new solutions arise. In greater volume and superior in quality.


More Goal Management, Less People Paranoia


Here’s the golden snitch. Free up energy and effort to manage something else. Once individuals are given the opportunity to embrace a CAI mindset and a particular threshold is met across a cluster of teams, a novel approach to goal management becomes the next resourceful step.


With a touch of foresight and first-principles thinking, our bureaucratic efforts can be directed at creating a system where goals are deconstructed in a manner that allows proactivity to manifest in every cell of the organization.


I refer to this as goal-feedback-action-diagnosis (GFAD), as seen in the article on effective goal setting and creative autonomy.


Here is a practical example:


Imagine a boardroom's expectations to meet a product-oriented vision. First, these expectations must solve a problem, otherwise, the entire operation becomes a corporate representation of the Marrakech souk. Then, the problems solved must be turned into a story -- this is good sales.


Once the vision and story are set in stone, it’s time to create goals. In order to achieve the desired creative autonomy in individual employees, directors are responsible to craft a product and service vision that acts as nutrient-rich soil that allows goals to grow in many different angles.


The quality of the vision in the upcoming model I’m about to present is presented as a separate 360’ model, ‘The Leader’s Agenda’ as seen in Bridging the Worlds of Strategy and Execution:



The innovative potential of each incremental goal handed down the organizational hierarchy is defined by the ‘fertility’ of the overarching vision. By fertility, I mean the room for multidirectional innovation and growth.


The overall product’s attunement to the vision is defined by the malleability of each incremental goal, and vice-versa. It’s a two-way street.


It is self-explanatory as to how a balanced, cyclical top-down-bottom-up management model is the fitting solution to nurture and maintain the ideal innovative threshold of an organization’s vision and goals.


Where Does Balance Come From?


The balance is the product of innovative HR practices to maximize the active CAI-potential of individual members of the organization. Allocating resources to create a GFAD-friendly workflow, with a CAI-trained workforce.


Creativity comes with practice. For years, we have referred to ourselves as either creative or uncreative. In truth, it’s there for everyone to harness to varying degrees. Like anything else, an individual's CAI potential depends on two factors:


  • Baseline: ‘Natural’ creative ability (talent)

  • Training: Practice and repetition


It’s important to note that practice and repetition in channeling one’s creative powers are different from rote learning.


Creative training requires practice and repetition of a different kind. Continuous exposure to situations of increased creative freedom, which is where the CAI-potential of our overall vision and incremental goals comes in.


Building A Hallway To Create


Imagine there’s a space with two rooms. Both rooms have books on polarising topics and ideas. In this case, one of them is littered with the literature on right-wing politics and the other on left-wing politics. Representatives get stuck in one room and given the architecture of the political system they’re part of, and they barely if ever visit the other room.


In a balanced scenario, politicians would continuously wander between two rooms and commentate the fusion of both polar sets of ideas until one realizes that there is no one way to govern a collective. Obviously, that’s not going to happen, but we can create such dynamics in other systems by creating the right architecture and learning from the mistakes we see so often.


In the case of a company and how its vision is brought to life, the two rooms represent the ability to take apart and put together, which we all have access to as individuals. #


When you’re able to bounce around between disintegrating and unifying insights, you have what we call creativity. What organizations are finding challenging, much like the political scape, is creating a corridor between the two rooms. A cauldron, if you will.


By micromanaging the vision instead of the people, the people get a flexible pass to journey between left and right when needed. The management needs to happen in the hallways, and for that, a hallway needs to be built and populated.


That isn’t to say people don’t need management, but much less of it, mostly to encourage initiative and responsibility.