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Lie #3 The Best Companies Cascade Goals

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jun 24, 2019

Lie #3 The Best Companies Cascade Goals-1Goals should cascade down and throughout your company, right?

I’m a ScaleUp coach, and for my 20+ years I’ve not only believed this, I’ve preached it. I’ve been wrong.

The best companies don’t cascade goals, they cascade meaning.  

Why do companies Cascade Goals?

In Marcus Buckingham’s five-minute video, he shares three reasons why companies cascade goals and why it doesn’t work:

  1. Alignment: Every CEO & Company seeks alignment, yet because managers and employees fail to check on their goals (Less than 5% of people check their goals even once a year) alignment fails.
  2. Track Progress: If you fail to check, you’re not tracking. Buckingham points out tracking isn’t linear, it’s binary, you either Succeed or Fail.
  3. Evaluate: As we’ll see in a future lie, we can’t reliably rate others. Every one’s goals are calibrated differently. You’d have to achieve inter-related reliability between everyone’s goals to be able to assess each one’s goals fairly. 

Goals are only valuable when they enable us to achieve something inside of us, we deem valuable. The only way goals can be useful, is, if we set them ourselves. When they come from within.  Discover this truth Looking Into the Future for a Child With Autism.

If a GOAL is imposed on you, it’s an UNGOAL. 

The best companies don’t cascade goals; the best companies cascade meaning.

Instead of cascading goals, we should cascade meaning and purpose.

9 Lies and Truths About Work (Truth #1 - 3)-1The authors provide two examples: Facebook and Chick-fil-A.  Two non-perfect examples.  Because no company is perfect. 

Facebook and Chick-fil-A cascade meaning through:

  1. EXPRESSED VALUES: Don’t tell them what you value, show them. What do you want them to see at work? Expressed values are written on your walls. What do your people encounter when they walk in through the door. What do they see when they turn to the left? And what do those things tell them about who you are?
  2. cascade-strategyRITUALS: Facebook has their famous bimonthly hack-a-thon; Chick-fil-A stops work on Sundays. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club, practiced a ritual every single Friday: he would pick a store, move the merchandise around on an end-cap display, then come back on Saturday to see what sold. It was his own version of Quick Market Intelligence. It signaled to his employees his deep belief, no one, not even the boss, knows the brain of the customer better than the customer. The question, then, isn’t whether you have rituals or not. The question is whether you are deliberate about what your rituals communicate.
  3. STORIES: The best leaders are storytellers, not in the sense of writing a novel or a screenplay. They cascade meaning through vignettes, anecdotes, or stories told at meetings, on email chains, or on phone calls. They are always telling these little stories, because the stories that they choose to tell convey what they value.


Mark Zuckerberg recently announced, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” He’s done this every 6 months for the past ten years.

Facebooks Core ValuesWith deliberate actions like these, Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg cascade their meaning to their team of teams. You can quibble with the results or worry that speed and connection at Facebook are emphasized to the detriment of security and accuracy. 

If you love genuine human connection, Zuckerberg and Sandberg tell their people, you’ll find meaning at Facebook.

If you love the idea that the future is a work in progress, you’ll find meaning at Facebook.

If you love speed over beauty, you’ll find meaning at Facebook.

But, if you want beauty—carefully considered, precise, perfect beauty—then Facebook is not for you.


Chick-fil-A is the most profitable and fastest-growing quick-service restaurant company in the World!

What is so distinctly different about Chick-fil-A?

Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall in Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World, feel Chick-fil-A’a difference is Truett Cathy, its founder, a man who was just as relentless, as precise, and as deliberate at bringing his meaning to life as Facebook’s leaders have been. Chick fil a Core Purpose-1Unlike Facebook, where the work never seems to stop, Chick-fil-A isn’t open on Sundays, despite the boost in sales and profit the extra day would bring. Why? Because Cathy was a devout Christian who followed the Bible’s injunction to reserve Sunday as a day of rest.

chick fil a culture valuesThe closed-on-Sunday policy is perhaps the most obvious example of the way Cathy cascaded meaning to his teams. A less well-known one is Chick-fil-A’s franchise agreement.  You can’t own more than one. Cathy decided the mission of his company was less to sell chicken than it was to build leaders in local communities. To grow local leaders, he would have to ensure each person he brought on as a franchisee had a good reason to stay close to their local community. The best way to do it was to keep these leaders in their stores, and the best way to ensure that, in turn, was to allow them only one location.

It’s difficult to believe, but you need zero capital to become a Chick-fil-A operator.  Cathy crafted an extraordinary franchise agreement to select franchisees not on the size of their capital but on their commitment to their community.

A Last Thought on Rituals

Whether conscious or unconscious you and your company follow rituals.

The things you do repeatedly communicate to your people what is meaningful to you. If I followed you around for a week, I’d see them. Example: in your meetings: What time do you show up? Are you five minutes early, or five minutes late? What are you wearing? Do you catch up with your team members about their personal lives or do you launch right into business? Who talks first? Do you allow your team members to speak, or do you cut them off? Does the meeting go long? Do you hold people back to finish things up?

What are your rituals communicating to your people?

Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

How can you build an enduring great organization?  Acheive Execution Excellence BP Guarantee poster-2

You need disciplined people, engaged in disciplined thought, to take disciplined action, to produce superior results, making a distinctive impact in the world.

Discipline sustains momentum, over a long period of time, to lay the foundations for lasting endurance. It’s the framework for Good to Great:

  • Stage 1: Disciplined People
  • Stage 2: Disciplined Thought
  • Stage 3: Disciplined Action
  • Stage 4: Build Greatness

Positioning Systems is obsessively driven to elevate your teams Discipline.  3 Disciplines of Execution (Strategic Discipline)-1A winning habit starts with 3 Strategic DisciplinesPriorityMetrics and Meeting Rhythms.   Your business dramatically improves forecasting, accountability, individual, and team performance.

Creating Execution Excellence demands creating/defining, understanding, with creativity and DISCIPLINE your Flywheel.

Meeting Rhythms achieve a disciplined focus on performance metrics to drive growth.

Positioning Systems helps your business achieve these outcomes on the Four most Important Decisions your business faces:












We help your business Achieve Execution Excellence.

Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $250M) business Scale-UP. We align your business to focus on Your One Thing!  Contact to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

Next Blog: Nine Lies about Work – Lie #4 The Best People are Well RoundedNine Lies about Work - A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World

This is the easiest lie for me to agree with.  Somehow, we believe this lie.  We prevail it upon our children, those we supervise, even our friends. Improve your weaknesses.  Dramatic evidence on why achieving well-roundness is a lie, next blog.

Topics: employee engagement, planning, Strategic Planning, People Development, Nine Lies About Work

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Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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