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Let’s talk: Setting goals

Let’s talk: Setting goals

I thought this post should be about setting goals and the consequences if you fail to do so. To start with, as members of the human race, most of us are driven by something and we usually don’t go through life with the ambition of achieving nothing. However, sometimes we need help and structure to be able to achieve want we want in life. These tips and tricks can be used both in your professional as well in your personal life, though different approaches might be necessary.

To understand the best way to set personal and professional goals, it is vital to understand what motivates us.  Looking back on the previous book tip “Drive” by Daniel Pink, where he discusses Motivation 2.0 and personality Type X and I. In short, Pink argues that Type X is driven by external factors and rewards such as money and titles whereas the Type I’s motivation derives from an intrinsic drive including, freedom, the underlying purpose and what I would call autonomy. These insights can be useful when setting your goals. Furthermore, as a leader you need to be able to balance these different types to be successful in reaching your goals in your company.

When you are in the process of creating your goal, you are unconsciously forming a mental rubber band that start to stretch towards your goal, or your desired state. This mental tension will help you achieve what you have set out to do. In this process is it very important that you try to visualise your goal and essential that you communicate it to your organisation. As it is your organisation that in the end of the day will help you reach your desired state.

Goals can be a variety of items, most commonly they include: economy, customers, increased sales, another product on the market, efficiency and/or better processes.

When you start setting your goal, a good tip can be to write it down on paper and have a look at it from a realistic perspective. Your goal should not be further away than one or two years. If you have a longer perspective, you risk losing that mental tension and create a vision instead. A vision is less defined and points more in a direction instead of an actual well-defined objective. The classic way of managing goals is to use the SMART concept; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound. To elaborate, when you have set your goal you should be able to view it is as Specific or well defined. You should be able to Measure it, to understand if you have reached the goal or not, or if you are just getting close. You should be able to understand if it’s Achievable, if you can reach it and most importantly that you have all agreed upon it (the goal should not be too hard to achieve as your mental rubber band risk breaking). Is the goal Relevant, as in is it the right goal to work towards at this point? You should have a Time set for your goal, so it doesn’t drag out endlessly (that will make your rubber band slack, so you lose your mental tension). If you have big goals you should break them down into smaller parts and fulfil each part to reach the overall goal. The next step is to communicate to your organisation followed by creating a plan with regular follow-ups.

Usually, it is easier to set goals in your private life as you have more control and less external push whereas running a company you have limited degree of freedom and are more dependent of employees, customers and regulations.

I would like to share an example from my private life on setting goals. I weighed 110 kg about a year ago which I did not feel comfortable with and I was in a rather crappy shape. So, I set out to reduce my weight and to start training. The first couple of months very little happened. I tried to eat less, took away most of the meat and started to work on the treadmill. Though not much happened. I then set a goal; to be able to run the race Toughest in Malmö. To do that I needed to be able to run 7 k easily and as it is a obstacle course I also needed to reduce my weight to be able to complete the race. For my weight I set a very stretched goal to lose at least 25 kg in 6 months. Once I had set my mind on achieving this everything started to come together. In a couple of weeks, I saw results coming in and it became a state of mind which drove me towards my goal (mental tension i.e. the rubber band). In the end, I lost 30 kg and started do training for a triathlon and I will do my first race later this year.

At Geometra we have a clear case of two distinct people who’re Type X and Type I. Me, a clear type I, went ahead and challenged myself and can now talk about achieving that goal whereas Christoffer, Type X, needs a “public push” to be able to establish his mental rubber band and stretch him towards a goal. Which is why I have now also challenged our him to run the Midnattsloppet in Malmö in September. The race is 10km that needs to be completed in under 1 hour. Christoffer is in roughly the same shape and mental position about this as I was a year ago and I’m hoping my determination and inspiration will rub off on him and help him complete the race in time.


This moths book tip: The Stupidity Paradox by Mats Alvesson and André Spicer which is about Functional Stupidity in companies and where Cognitive Economy is about letting other people do the thinking as it is hard to think yourself. Buy it here on Adlibris or on Amazon

As usual you can reach me on marco.skrinjar@geometrasoftware.com