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The renewing concept of Goals…

by | Jan 10, 2021 | Goals, renew, Styx

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Wrapping up my current project, I am writing a paper to tie the software/hardware purchased back to what the organization was trying to do.  Computer systems and software can do just about anything… and most organizations aren’t really clear on where they are going. Looking at their current Mission/Vision/Values, they were so high level that it was unclear how computers help achieve them.  When they mapped to Goals, it started to devolve into this or that initiative, no clear cohesion between them… nor any concept how the Goals would be achieved and measured… no harmonies… no common concept…

… and it reminded me of my story yesterday.  We had a Roadmap and were delivering it … for our part of the business.  There were 2 other business units, working just as hard doing their part, but it wasn’t clear how we all could relate and support each other.  Which is why I was now sitting in the corporate boardroom of headquarters for the 12th 2-hour meeting with 18 officers to develop… a Mission/Vision/Values – and commensurate Strategic Plan. As we had been working together, the unifying concept of harmony between our customers, markets, even technologies which would give all of us more than any unit alone,  was… the null set… 

Styx was at their peak influence with 3 Triple Platinum albums in a row.  Always featuring their Chicago roots, and now deep into “concept” albums, they chose the iconic Chicago Paradise Theater to use.  Imagining the owner of the theater from opening in 1929 to closing in 1958, the arc of each song took different views, including the album art.  It also had a number of hits that were individually amazing and stood alone, and other than their amazing harmonies, it was anyone’s guess as to what propelled it to be their biggest album, hitting Number #1 for 3 weeks in 1981.  

While the band was more cohesive, they were always balancing Dennis’ quest for a more complex, expansive sound while also making room for sweeping ballads alongside Tommy and JY’s straight-ahead rock.  To this day, fans still debate which they like Styx for, but after the success of Paradise, Dennis powered forward one step further.  Not only would the next album be a concept album, it featured an elaborate set and staging “production”.  You probably don’t remember the name of the album, but the first song on the album, named for the large character who was on stage sealed their fate as a band… “Mr. Roboto”…

Dennis claimed the bigger hits were “his”, and said that often enough that Tommy had enough and quit in 1984 just as the album was released.  And… the album tanked along with the band, and without their signature harmonies, the remaining members forced Dennis out in 1999.  Although they have tried to get back together for a few tours, it is mostly the replaying of these 4 amazing albums. Here is one from early in 2017, and shows most of the original band powering through the catalog of hits with kids that weren’t around in the great times of the late ’70s…

… we declared “success” after this last meeting, publishing 65 words – 18 people for 24 hours… about 7 man-hours per word.  And none of these made any difference in our individual performance. It was like having one group playing Jazz, one Rock, one Classical – they have instruments, and notes, but different rhythms.. and the results would be better in 3 venues.  

Our part of the business was back to being profitable, producing 80% of the plan… and the CEO had come from it.  The Chairman of the Board was from the one that was struggling to make plan, and the tensions there were becoming untenable. The CEO left, the Chairman was forced to sell “his” part of the business, lay off 700 employees globally, and put the remaining assets into an investor’s hands… 

… and I was out of a job.  While “our” Goals and Roadmap had customers and partners seeing real value in, it was over. I got in my 72 BMW and drove home with the prospect of moving the family with kids in high school to Portland, Oregon… which was not in my Goals… anywhere.  And at this point you are probably saying, how did this end up on Sunday and renew

Well first, poor planning 😉  It is where I am in the storyline… and also emblematic of the problem with Goals and planning.  In my Men’s group at church, we had a tagline:  Man has a Plan, God has a Purpose.  This is about to be put to the test (again) in my life as you will see next week.  If this last year has shown us something important, it is that nothing can be taken for granted.  So why have Goals?  Why not just be a nihilist and literally give up and flow along… 

…what I have noticed this year… again… is that those with a Faith foundation are able to grapple with uncertainty and unknowns without the Fear I see in all those without it.  It could be naive, but the folks I run with are not naive or stupid.  So what is it?  I can now look back and tell these stories with a certainty that was not present then for sure… and yet, I knew that there were underlying “notes” that would have “harmony” if I could just trust in His music.  This year, the Goals that I could tie back to People and Faith have come through… like harmonies on a concept album…

As the year was ending, I am pleased to see more and more people commenting that, ironically, it was a good year.  I don’t want to make light of the real death and destruction, but there are many stories of businesses that had to focus, people who had to choose differently, and results that were back to my word for last year, Unexpected.  As we wrap up our focus on Goals, next week I want to talk about Healing… but before that, renew your own concept album with the harmonies from Styx’s last big album, and what I know we will say eventually about these days… they are The Best of Times.

Tonight’s the night we’ll make history
Honey, you and I
‘Cause I’ll take any risk to tie back the hands of time
And stay with you here tonight

I know you feel these are the worst of times
I do believe it’s true
When people lock their doors and hide inside
Rumor has it it’s the end of paradise
But I know, if the world just passed us by
Baby I know, you wouldn’t have to cry, no no

The best of times are when I’m alone with you
Some rain some shine
We’ll make this a world for two
Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime
We’ll take the best, forget the rest
And someday we’ll find these are the best of times
These are the best of times

The headlines read “These are the worst of times”
I do believe it’s true
I feel so helpless like a boat against the tide
I wish the summer winds could bring back paradise
But I know, if the world turned upside down
Baby, I know you’d always be around

The best of times are when I’m alone with you
Some rain some shine, we’ll make this a world for two
When I’m alone with you (the best of times)
Everything’s alright (are when I’m alone with you)
When I’m alone with you (some rain some shine)
You brighten up the night (we’ll make this a world for two) said, when I’m alone


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