The Risk of Singular Goals

Nora Guerrera
3 min readFeb 20, 2024

What happens when the “why” gets lost and context is forgotten

Be clear, stay focused and communicate, that’s what we’re advised when we discuss our goals. Extremely clear, so there’s no confusion. Very focused to keep everyone aligned, and communicated widely and often so everyone is informed.

But what happens when the goals are too focused? What happens if efforts at clarity cause goals to change as they are communicated? What happens if context is lost and with it, any consideration for the larger ecosystem in which the goals exist?

A Cautionary Tale: Wells Fargo

You may be familiar with this story. In 2016, Wells Fargo’s goal was to deepen customer relationships. They decided that the depth of a customer relationship could be measured by how many accounts an individual had at Wells Fargo and they started using that as the only metric of success towards this goal. As communication trickled down from the CEO through the organization to the front-line employees, the perception of their goal shifted. It stopped being about deepening customer relationships and became about maximizing their measurement of success- the number of accounts per customer.

Wells Fargo aligned its employee incentives to match its metric. This meant that employees that were successful in getting…

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Nora Guerrera

Strategist, Leader, Coach, Teacher. I help clients explore, create and use digital to bring game-changing experiences to their businesses and their customers.