What are Clocks & Gauges?
Management books have plenty to say about the importance of setting clear goals. What’s often overlooked, however, is the role and importance of working with clocks and gauges along the way to the goal.
“Flying an airplane” provides a useful metaphor for understanding the inter-relationship between goals and gauges. Let’s say we’re in Tel Aviv and want to get to our destination in New York. Arriving in New York is the goal. On the way, we may have intermediate goals or milestones (like passing Madrid or crossing the Atlantic Ocean). During the flight, the pilot needs to constantly assess different gauges indicating height, pressure, temperature etc., and responding to these in order to progress smoothly to the destination. It is clear, therefore, why both are needed: if you don’t know where you want to go, no amount of smooth flying will get you there. But on the other hand, having a clear definition that you aim to arrive at NYC Kennedy Airport will not be very helpful if you do not maintain the correct altitude over the Atlantic. In the goal and task-oriented culture of the corporate world, it is often easy to overlook the crucial importance of defining and monitoring your meters and gauges.
Thinking about goals and gauges is like being a pilot. Thinking about only goals is a little like being the
passenger. However, only knowing your goals:
a) Doesn’t tell you how to get there
b) Doesn’t give you a measure of your progress
c) Doesn’t indicate the necessary adjustments