Climbing towards the goal

It has been four months since I’ve officially made the step of becoming an entrepreneur. Four months of sitting in industrially designed cafés drinking americano’s. Four months of listening, experimenting, and documenting customers problems. Four months of work and yet, I’ve made nothing. No product, no service, no prototype, no money. Sounds crazy…

One year ago, I probably would have said “that’s very unproductive”. Traditionally we define productivity as the number of outputs in relation to the number of inputs. Reading the most books in a certain amount of time, creating as much (or the best) slides possible, minimizing the time in queue to spend time more effectively. Getting the highest amount of throughput is ought to optimize my productivity. And that’s great! Isn’t it?

In fact, it isn’t. Not unless you know your goal. Mister Eliyahu Goldratt famously described this in his book, The Goal. Blindly focusing on efficiency without knowing your goal actually might drift you further from it. He explains, through a fascinating narrative, how focusing on poor or incomplete KPI’s can actually be “counterproductive”.

Recently I dropped running for bouldering (indoor climbing, 4 meters). Every climb is a puzzle, a physical puzzle. Gut feeling says this sport is all about efficiency. Efficient with my energy, my time, and even efficient in the footings I choose. But what is efficiency if you don’t know your goal?

I can dedicate myself to climb as fast as possible, be as conservative with my energy, or have perfect foot placement, but none of this is my goal. Eventually my goal is what I define it to be. This can be climbing a route I’ve never done before, training to win a competition, or just having fun climbing with friends.

When we started four months ago we thought our goal was clear. It wasn’t. We were just ready to make something efficient, without a clear purpose. Since then we have spoken to 50+ professional in the fashion industry to get a clear understanding of the problems that actually matter. It took us quite some time, but we are starting to understand our goal. And that’s the best we could hope for.

Before thinking about being efficient or productive, know your goal.

What about you? Have you recently focused efficiency, but forgetting to consider the true goal?

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