The Maltese Falcon is one of my favourite films. The plot involves the classic example of a MacGuffin, a device that propels the characters’ actions, often with little explanation or rationale. In the Maltese Falcon it is a lead statue of a bird that the characters suspect has hidden riches.
Many organisations run on exactly this kind of MacGuffin. People are executing tasks to orders in pursuit of a little understood goal. Often there are vague promises of wealth and riches if the tasks are successful. Far too often at the end of their work the employees discover the MacGuffin is meaningless. ‘Exceeding market expectations’, ‘winning share’, ‘leading cost efficiency’, ‘achieving series A funding’ are all MacGuffins. Like the Maltese Falcon they prove to be lead all the way through.
Instead of a MacGuffin like an arbitrary and meaningless goal, have a conversation about purpose with the team. Discover the why that you share. Why your team does what it does matters, especially to the team. Be clear as a team on the impact you aim to have on others in the world. When the thrilling ride of work is over that purpose is far more valuable than any Macguffin.
You get to keep your purpose. A Macguffin just goes back in the prop drawer.
(Image source: Wikipedia)