How to strive and thrive by using fuzzy goals and mental models

Smart goals, stretch goals, fuzzy goals….huh?

I learnt about the concept of fuzzy goals during a personal coaching session with Tom Barrett. I have been a long time fan of Tom Barrett’s work and was thrilled when I found out that he was going to be expanding his services into professional coaching. When we talked about the plans for the year, Tom introduced the concept of fuzzy goals. The concept is from the fantastic book Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo and the book is a must-have for any creative, entrepreneur, educator or workshop facilitator. In the book, clear goals are explained as process driven. A series of steps towards an unambiguous goal. When we know where we are going, the best path forward is a process with repeatable consistency.

But what do you do when the end goal is not as clear?

The answer is fuzzy goals. Fuzzy goals are best explained by the below diagram.

The difference between a clear goal and a fuzzy goal. Image source:

Gamestorming is ‘a framework for exploration, experimentation, and trial and error’ that allows you to move forward to solve fuzzy goals. Gamestorming is listed as the alternative to the business processes required for clear goals. When the endpoint is not clear, constant course correction and stopping to take in what’s around is necessary. Stopping to breathe, reflect and then using these moments to assess the next move. It is not aimless. It is not directionless. It is just less map and more compass. ‘A voyage of discovery’ as it is eloquently put in Gamestorming. The general direction may be known but it is less direct route and more vicinity. For me personally, I have some personal goals that I am working towards. I would like to write a book in 2018. This might seem a pretty direct goal but the topic of the book is still unclear. The research, the experiments, the stories that drive the narrative of the book are still unfolding. It might mean a series of small eBooks which help distil my thinking or it might a chapter at a time. All I know is that I have set the habit of writing daily firmly in place and know that from this practice the destination is fuzzy.

Latticework of mental models

The way that Tom and I will work will be to pull together a latticework of mental models to move towards the fuzzy goals. I have long been a fan of mental models after first being introduced to the concept through the brilliant blog, Farnham Street.

A mental model is an explanation of how something works. It is a concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind to help you interpret the world and understand the relationship between things. Mental models are deeply held beliefs about how the world works.
James Clear

There are many, many mental models and you would be very familiar with many of them. The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule), confirmation bias, bell curve, and the list goes on. The concept of the latticework was developed by Charlie Munger. Charlie is a billionaire investor who is vice chairman for Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett‘s conglomerate. He is one of the most amazing thinkers, with books and blogs dedicated to his ability to think. I bought his book, Poor Charlie’s Almanac so that I could get a better understanding of the way he developed his latticework. The more mental models you have, the better. Tried and tested ways to validate your own thinking. The latticework becomes a way to lay the path as we walk. For some sections, the next step (or steps) is quite clear. The path is illuminated. For others, it is one step at a time and the path is clouded with visibility really low.

The journey

When I was growing up, my parents would always take us out for a drive. ‘Where are we going?” I’d ask. My Dad would turn to me, shrug his shoulders and say ‘Don’t know son, we’ll see when we get there.” I always loved that. It tapped into my curious nature and it made the trip so much more enjoyable. The destination, in the end, was always irrelevant. The journey there was the reward.

Header image source:

If you like what you read here, sign up and get the latest posts in your inbox.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: