Stay on-task, don’t fret about the outcome

by Andy on March 30, 2015

We had a classic case of this on a recent program – when the pressure’s on, it’s much better to stay on-task than to worry about achieving the outcome.

Fergie’s Manchester United teams were famous for scoring in what became known as ‘Fergie Time’; that seemingly endless period of added time at the end of the match, when they needed to either equalise or snatch a late winner. The Liverpool team of the 70’s and 80’s had a similar reputation. One of the main reasons both teams were so successful at this pressurised stage of the game was because they had a plan and stuck to it. Rather than fixating about ‘we must get a late goal’ they did whatever the manager had told them to do in that situation. In football this could have been:

  • Play higher up the pitch
  • Retain possession
  • Only cross the ball into the box when we know the centre forward can get on the end of it

It’s the opposite to ‘hoofing the ball up the pitch’ and hoping for the best, which would be an ‘outcome-led’ behaviour.

On one of our recent Mindset Sales programs, one of the managers in the room took a call during the break. She was told by a client that she had to re-pitch for their business (which she had earlier been told she was going to win) because a new consultant had come in and at the last minute was re-evaluating all suppliers.

We discussed the risks of an outcome-led approach which could be: dropping the price, calling foul or simply re-submitting the previous ‘winning’ bid. Instead, we decided on an ‘on-task’ approach which was based around the Decision Making Cycle (DMC) and the Gazing Proposal Planner. A robust proposal, addressing all four stages of the DMC doesn’t guarantee success, but it certainly gives her the best chance.

Even Fergie’s teams didn’t always score when they needed to.



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