How Germany's Smart Goal Setting Took It All the Way to the World Cup Title
Germany was the best team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and rode its talent to its first title since 1990. It would be easy to assume that it just had a great team. But it didn't win the world's most famous and sought-after title by accident. Instead, Germany used basic goal-setting principles to guide action and decisions along the quest. By distilling decades of goal-setting research, you'll find three fundamental components of highly effective goals.
- Any goal is better than no goal
- A specific goal is better than a broad goal
- A hard and specific goal is better than an easy goal
Germany's journey began following a terrible showing in the 2000 European Championship. The country realized it had to do something differently after failing to advance out of the first round, and put together a 14-year plan to rebuild a world-class program.
There is a simple goal-setting framework that shows how the European nation rebuilt and developed its national soccer program: Think Big, Act Small, Move Quick (BSQ).
- Think Big is all about determining your ultimate goal
- Act Small is the series of milestones you must hit along the way
- Move Quick is the timeline that you have to put into place and follow
While there were hundreds of milestones and Move Quick actions, at a high level, Germany had a BSQ plan with components similar to the following:
|Think Big||Act Small||Move Quick|
|Win World Cup||Develop national youth soccer program 2002||Launch in 2002|
|Identify top youth talent||Ongoing Activity|
|Increase funding for high school programs||Start in 2003|
|Attach best players to professional club teams||Ongoing Activity|
|FIFA World Cup (Brazil)||Win in 2014|
Just as Germany did with its soccer program, you can leverage the principles of BSQ at home and at work. You can use it for the business you're building. The dieting and exercise program you are going to start. Your plan for retirement. The new client you seek. The number of ways in which you can use BSQ is endless, but the outcome will always be the same: You will achieve more of your goals.
At its core, the program Germany put in place is about developing and making the most out of the talent it has. This is another huge benefit of using goals at work. Putting goals in place makes it immensely easier to create clarity of expectations and accountability of outcomes. This is a win-win, and improves both performance and employee engagement.
DAVID VAN ROOY | Columnist
David Van Rooy is Senior Director of International Human Resources Strategy & Operations at Walmart. His new book is Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (2014, AMACOM).