Enter The Target Sergeant

Hi there, it’s been a while since you last heard from me, I know.

I have to admit it, I’ve been feeling lost for some time now. Since our company adopted Agile, I haven’t felt at home. People around me started thinking, took initiatives, started to talk about building a “culture”. I felt lost as my position was being challenged. I’ve done my best to highlight the threats of Agile all this time but no one ever listens (and what the heck is a “growth mindset” anyway?). But fear not, redemption is finally at hand! I got promoted to Controller (*cough* there was apparently no other position to put me in) and our CEO just briefed us that he was thinking of introducing OKR’s (obviously, everyone else is doing it). Now here’s an opportunity! Enter the target sergeant!

This thing about letting people think, and “self-organization”, why don’t people get it that this is the recipe for chaos! But – I see my part of the equation clearly now. There is a gap to fill! The target sergeant is what I need to reclaim my importance.

Let me quickly summarize the key success factors for the target sergeant:

  • Highlight the risks. Whenever there’s a creative initiative in your surroundings, highlight the risks. Always begin by acknowledging that it is a great initiative. Then do a silent pause. Raise your voice and start your next sentence with “but…” (oh this always works BTW). You’ll start noticing a few eyeballs darting from side to side. Then, build up a focused crescendo, “…have you thought about the risks?”(Of course they haven’t! Seize the moment as you’ve got the whole management team by the balls now). Your fellow management colleagues will start to panic. Because, let’s be honest, who wants to insert risks? If anyone at this point has the gumption to object, then cut them off with, “We have commitments to keep!” Game over! Silently smile and lean back as your peers start to appreciate the senior wisdom you bring to the table (a great example has been made. Who would dare to be creative now. Ha!).
  • A master target sergeant recognizes that few ever really meet their targets. This is a problem! How can our company ever be competitive as long as this is happening? Become a target sergeant master by always highlighting the target gaps in anyone’s execution. Aren’t they committed to the cause? Silently smile and lean back as your colleagues scurry around like mice squabbling over the safest bet during target setting meetings. Then raise your voice “shouldn’t our targets be aggressive”? Watch your colleagues squirm! Muhaha!
  • Oh, and this is one of my favorites,“Has anyone tried this before?” (…of course not, that’s why it’s a novel idea, duh! ) Look around and you’ll see signs of doubt. Should we really be the first ones to try this out? Who would dare to object to that?
  • The final killer: Put emphasis on the time pressure we are under. This is the simplest trick in the book! You are always late! This is due to the fact that you set impossible stretch goals in the first place! (does that ring a bell?) When “time pressure” and “late” appear in the same sentence, the meeting will quickly loose interest and move over to the next status point on the agenda. Watch the nods around the table as your peers recognize your senior wisdom!

To sum it up, I realize that my Controller role wasn’t so bad after all. I’ll make sure we avoid chaos and my CEO has hinted that I will be considered for the CFO position – he wants more execution at the top level!

Final target sergeant advice: Always remember to jump ship and move on to the next company before the ship sinks. The story will be that your peers failed in executing the vision. You are exonerated because you pointed this out from the start. (At this point in time, everyone will have forgotten that what you really failed to do was to innovate muhahaha). Happy drilling Sergeants!

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