Strategy & Execution Coaching to achieve your critical goals


Value Creation Notes and Updates

The Goals Habit

Keystone Habits

In his excellent book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg writes about keystone habits, high leverage routines that lead to a cascade of additional positive habits and results. For an individual, exercise is a keystone habit, in that people who establish a consistent exercise routine will often improve their diets (eating habits), and will enjoy enhanced energy and productivity, less stress, better sleep, etc. Organizations can also benefit from establishing keystone habits. Duhigg cites the example of Alcoa, where CEO Paul O’Neil instituted the keystone habit of focusing relentlessly on worker safety. That focus on safety led to a cascade of positive changes: improved communication between workers and management; a culture of learning and empowerment; multiple process improvement and quality initiatives; etc. As a result of these changes, costs came down, quality and productivity increased, and financial performance improved dramatically.

For small to mid-sized organizations, the Goals Habit can be a keystone of sustained success.

The Goals Habit consists of:

  • Identifying a small number of critical goals;

  • Creating a simple action plan for each goal, with monthly milestones;

  • Reviewing actual results versus milestones each month;

  • Identifying lessons learned and using them to continuously adjust action plans.

The Goals Habit helps companies and non-profits to set and achieve their most important objectives, but as a keystone habit, it also leads to a cascade of additional benefits.

“Bonus” Goals Habit benefits include:

  • Engaging and motivating employees who participate in setting their own goals;

  • Nudging the management team to step back from reactive fire-fighting in favor of setting a more proactive agenda;

  • Identifying shifting customer priorities early on, and responding to them quickly;

  • Building a culture of honest communication and learning that enables innovation.

Could your organization benefit from establishing a keystone Goals Habit?


The ValueGroove Management Process (VMP) from Paul O’Malley Associates focuses on three areas:

1. Strategy: deciding what the organization should focus on, and communicating that focus both to employees and customers.

2. Execution: setting clear goals tied to specific action plans, and systematically reviewing results versus the plans.

3. Culture: reinforcing the values and “ways of doing things” that support sustained organizational success.

We understand that the management team’s time and bandwidth are the scarcest resources in small to mid-sized companies and non-profits. The VMP allows you to establish an effective management process with a minimum investment of time and focus, and at a cost that can be tailored to meet your budget.

If you would like to learn more about getting started with ValueGroove, please contact us.


Paul O'Malley