I think about optimisation goals a lot. For me, that’s about being actively aware of what ‘great’ looks like, and what should be traded off to get there.
Every time we optimise towards a goal, other scenarios become suboptimal. We can’t simultaneously optimise for everything; the math just does not work. (My mental model here is grounded in the applied mathematics version of optimisation, and the definition of ‘suboptimal’ being ‘less than optimal’. Suboptimal doesn’t mean bad, it just means it’s not optimal).
Especially in a large organisations, I think it’s really important to focus on the optimisation goals. I choose to believe that people act with good intent, so if something seems weird or wrong to me, then my starting assumption is that their optimisation goal is different to mine. My first step is to identify what their goal is. If it’s optimised appropriately for the organisation, then I can be comfortable, even if I’m stuck in the suboptimal experience of something. The organisation here is the whole company; not any one function or team.
This approach helps me actively seek out organisational context, be confident that I’m delivering the broadest possible impact, and generally maintain a positive outlook throughout whatever I’m working on.
Without this approach, it’s easy to get trapped at everything just feeling suboptimal, which is a pretty unexciting place to be.