This post is part of the 📖 Nine Lies About Work series.


Today, I am still reading the LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals chapter of book Nine Lies About Work written by Authors Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall.

TL;DR! 💬

There are some big lies, distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking that we encounter every time we show up for work. Nine lies, to be exact. They cause dysfunction and frustration, ultimately resulting in workplaces that are a pale shadow of what they could be.

By reading Nine Lies About Work, you can get past the lies and discover what’s real. These freethinking leaders recognize the power and beauty of our uniqueness. They know that emergent patterns are more valuable than received wisdom and that evidence is more powerful than dogma.


Yesterday, I started reading the LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals chapter from Nine Lies About Work book.

Chapter #3

LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals

The best leaders realize that their people are wise and do not need to be coerced into alignment through yearly goal setting.

What we face instead is a deficit of meaning, a clear and detailed understanding of the purpose of our work, and of the values we should honour in deciding how to get it done.

Our people don’t need to be told what to do; they want to be told why.

Many of the best leaders are storytellers, not in the sense of writing a novel or a screenplay, but because they cascade meaning through vignettes, anecdotes, or stories told at meetings, on email chains, or phone calls.

They are always telling these little stories because they choose to describe what they value.

Stories make sense of the world: they are meaning, made human.

That’s why you can tell a lot about what matters to a team by the stories that the team members tell themselves.

As a leader, you are trying to unlock your people’s judgment, choices, insight, and creativity. Instead, we cloister information in our planning systems, and we cascade directives in our goal-setting systems.

We should unlock information through intelligence systems and cascade meaning through our expressed values, rituals, and stories.

We should let our people know what’s going on in the world and which hill we’re trying to take, and then we should trust them to figure out how to contribute.

They will invariably make better and more authentic decisions than those derived from any planning system that cascades goals from on high.

Goals set by others imprison us. In creating your own, you had found freedom.


That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we will read the next chapter LIE #4: The best people are well-rounded

What lies we've learned so far?
  1. LIE #1: People care which company they work for

    We, as team members, want our team leader to make us feel part of something bigger, that he/she shows us how what we are doing together is important and meaningful. You as a team leader make us feel that you can see us, and connect to us, and care about us, and challenge us in a way that recognizes who we are as individuals.

  2. LIE #2: The Best Plan Wins

    It’s far better to coordinate your team’s efforts in real-time, relying heavily on each unique team member’s informed, detailed intelligence. You’ll have to sit down and survey your team members and make your plan.

    The more frequently and predictably you check in with your people or meet with your team—the more you offer your real-time attention to the reality of their work—the more performance and engagement you will get.

    It’s not true that the best plan wins. The best intelligence indeed wins.

  3. LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals

    We should unlock information through intelligence systems and cascade meaning through our expressed values, rituals, and stories.

    We should let our people know what’s going on in the world and which hill we’re trying to take, and then we should trust them to figure out how to contribute.

    They will invariably make better and more authentic decisions than those derived from any planning system that cascades goals from on high.

Nine Lies about Work

Author(s): Marcus Buckingham

Author(s): Ashley Goodall

Short Blurb: How do you get to what's real? Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic … Read more
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Part 7 of 23 in the 📖 Nine Lies About Work book series.

Series Start | Nine Lies About Work - Day 6 | Nine Lies About Work - Day 8



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