Neuroscientists have long known that our internal reward system is activated by objectives. This system is the basis of our motivation and dedication. To be able to make use of our motivations in a targeted manner and to affirm and increase them, it is of crucial importance to be completely aware of one’s own objectives and how to achieve them. With Goalscape, the double Olympian Marcus Baur developed a concept, that aims to visualize objectives and make the road to success more predictable and projectable.
EBN24: Mr. Baur, you once said that “a sailing team is just like a company.” What exactly do you mean by that?
Baur: What makes sailing special is its strategic and tactical challenges. You simply cannot sail against the wind. There is no such thing as one single path to follow, you rather have to make decisions on the course you want to take. This is where sailing and corporate strategies are very similar – in companies, it is also necessary to constantly make decisions and set priorities.
EBN24: That means that you have countless options from which to choose.
Baur: Exactly. Who defines the objectives; who makes a decision and how to keep the team motivated. All of these small and big decisions need to be made while keeping the big picture, meaning the company’s success, in mind.
EBN24: Let’s stick to the subject of sailing a little longer. In 2000, you participated in the Olympics in Sydney in a 49er dinghy – a sailing boat type that was almost unknown in Germany. How did you manage to master this challenge?
Baur: This type of boat is certainly not easy to handle. Up to this point, there were virtually no European sailors with experience in this area. But the challenge for regatta racers is not only to master the art of controlling their boat. They also need to be able to reach the maximum speed, optimise their physical and mental fitness, maintain and perfect the boat materials and constantly improve their tactical and strategic skills to find the right position in the race – and of course they need to be able to rely on their team of trainers and assistants. I needed to gain a comprehensive overview of all of these aspects and I wanted to prioritise the number of sub-objectives. That is why I developed the Goalscape concept.
I started out by aligning the individual boat manoeuvres in a circle, like the pieces of a pie. Then I made the ones with particular importance for success in the race bigger than the others. The closed-form representation in a circle made a lot of sense, as both material resources and time are of course limited. Then I labelled the respective segments with our progress. In the end, I was able to see at a glance where we had a lot of potential and where we needed to increase our training.
EBN24: So the concept not only served to keep an overview of the “Olympics endeavour”, but also was a huge motivating factor.
Baur: To have a clear objective in mind at all times is one of the most important motivating factors in professional sports. And it goes without saying that this also holds true for each and every company. Neuroscientists have produced evidence that goal-oriented working increases the quality of life. The Goalscape concept supports a team in establishing a joint goal and to pursue this concrete goal further in order to achieve maximum success while using resources in the most efficient way.
EBN24: But the goals in sports are not the same as goals in a company.
Baur: You are absolutely right. Goals in sports can generally be described using just a few words: I want to sail from A to B as fast as possible. This is something anyone can understand instantly. In companies, however, the situations are way more complex and extensive. And this is where the Goalscape visualisation comes in. The more complex the situation, the more important it is to keep your focus on the common goal.
EBN24: You drew the first Goalscape visualisation by hand. How did you manage to turn your idea into a marketable product?
Baur: I was able to build an international network while participating in the Olympic Games. Emmet Lazich, for example, has contributed substantially to this success. He is also a sailor and successful trainer and now works as a software architect in our company. Richard Parslow, the former trainer of England’s national sailing team, is responsible for sales and support at Goalscape. Our network thus spans from Kiel to Richard Parslow in London and Emmet Lazich in Sydney, and is completed by Malav Shroff, who lives in India as an entrepreneur.
EBN24: In spite of this international approach, you decided to found your company in Schleswig-Holstein. Why didn’t you move to London, a city with more international acclaim?
Baur: There is no doubt that my roots are right here in Schleswig-Holstein. Another important factor that should not be ignored is that, while there certainly is a far-spread start-up culture with strong venture investors in the UK and America, Germany boasts an extraordinary culture of funding. Government funding programmes are an important element in turning ideas into reality. Our company, for example, received funding from the Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft. For me, this is clearly one of the advantages of investing in this region.
Marcus Bauer is the inventor of the Goalscape concept. He is an educated architect and winner of multiple sailing championships, including three-time European champion (1997, 1999 and 2003), runner-up world champion (2000). In addition, he has won the German championship several times and participated twice in the Olympic Games (2000 and 2004). Together with his partners Emmett Lazich, Richard Parslow and Malav Shroff, he founded the company Goalscape GmbH.