Method over Goals

Little by little, preoccupation with method, technique and procedure gains a subtle dominance over the whole process of goal seeking. How it is done becomes more important than whether it is done. Means triumph over ends. Form triumphs over spirit.

Method is enthroned. Men become prisoners of their procedures, and organizations that were designed to achieve some goal become obstacles in the path to that goal.

A concern for “how to do it” is healthy and necessary. The fact that it often leads to an empty worship of method is just one of the dangers with which we have to live. Every human activity, no matter how ennobling or constructive or healthy, involves hazards. The flower of competence carries the seeds of rigidity just as the flower of virtue carries the seeds of complacency. “There is a road to hell,” said John Bunyan, “even from the gates of heaven.”

John Gardner, Self-Renewal