Category Archives: Program Evaluation

Everyone uses SMART goals, and you?!

I know – this is almost boring. Actually it is boring, why do I try to embellish reality?!
You have heard over thousands times that goals need to be S.M.A.R.T., and you are tired of it. You are tired because you need a reason to believe that it is going to help.
I used to feel frustrated when meeting with managers who do not like the idea of a work-plan, or do not find the time to do that, or whatever… But you know what?! that is why I started this blog, I wanted to write my thoughts and insights so I can express my enjoyment and belief that these processes really work and benefit organizations. Writing a work-plan may be a real fun, as long as you understand why you do it, and HOW to do it. I promise to do my best and explain the basics as well as the advanced, so if you are ready to think – we go on it, together, right now (-:

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Let’s firstly start with two vital facts:

As a consequence, you must be able to connect these two, and be able to measure, define, criticize, and change your goals and plans.
So, how do you set goals and objectives? Pretty simple actually. We need to clearly split three elementary parts of a work-plan:

  • The vision
  • The goals
  • The objectives

The vision is the wish, the large picture, the general direction, the utopia. The vision is usually articulated by senior executives, mainly board of directors members, and from my experience visions are usually good, and often very impressive. The vision typically includes one to two very meaningful sentences, where every word worth its weight in gold, or at least supposed to. I certainly agree that vision phrasing may take a while, however I am not that convinced it should take forever, and completely disagree with “no vision yet” or a “dead-end” circumstances and excuses. I am very sharp at this point because I see no logic in doing your job when you do not know where to go, and what is the purpose; or even worse – when your employees are lost. (let me put something here – no, you do not work just to earn your salary or remain employed). So, in short – message #1 is: have your vision handy.

Once we are done (if you are not – I promise to write soon on how to write a vision effectively and efficiently, so stay tuned…), and we have our vision – we need to break the vision to small pieces, the goals. Not too small, let’s say up to seven, and the most safe is something between 3-5. I know that there are managers who like the details, or feel that every word needs to get strong attention, or any other persuasive explanation – I suggest you to take it as an exercise – try to focus on 3-5 most important messages from the vision. Why? because you plainly want to do it, and hold it in front of you. Another helpful tip is to extract 3-5 single words that describe the vision the most.

In order to keep yourself in truck – bear in mind, this should take no more than 3-6 meetings with your relevant team, as long as everyone takes notes  independently, and do their homework. (however large organization may stretch it to a process, but still no more than 10 meetings with all of the relevant people are needed).
I suggest the following structure: meeting #1: overall view and open discussion regarding the most important messages from the vision; take notes, do your homework and conference back in meeting #2: the most important messages analysis – you should have a list to narrow. The final product is the 3-5 “raw” goals. This stage may take more than one meeting, but in my opinion and based on my experience – the efficient organizations will benefit the most… In meeting #3 the focus is on phrasing the goals. As I said at the beginning – this is not the SMART stage, we will have it later on. For now you need to just phrase 3-5 full, but short, sentences that express the vision and call for action. In short – message #2: write your goals shortly and clearly, in light of the vision.

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I was trying to think of example that will facilitate my explanation above in a friendly way, and that is why I chose a corny one – Coca-Cola. This document shows Coca-Cola’s 2020 vision, and I recommend you to take a glance especially at the left side – 2020 mission (Vision here), our vision (Words here) , our goals (Goals here). I am not 100% fan of their structure, but I think it gives a clear idea for managers who want to pursue planned processes.

In short:
> Vision: the big picture, usually contains a very small number of meaningful sentences.
> (Words/Raw goals: the fractions of the vision, the words that describe the vision)
> Goals: the actions needed to be taken in order to practice the theory

Part #2 of this article will be covering the connection between goals and objectives, an improved SMART model, and a wrap up of my arguments re vision-goals-objectives.

P.S. I am more than sorry for not entertaining you today with a must watch movie… I could not trace a relevant one in my mind – but will be happy to get your ideas, please share them in comments or email. In the meantime live happily.

 

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He was coherently focusing on his goal, and you?!

Firstly, I would like to thank you my readers! I am more than delighted to see the stats growing every day, and as you remember I am numbers fan… so imagine how happy I am (-:
Secondly, since I have promised last time that I will be talking today re sticking on your goal, be sure – I will do it here and now. Ready to think? Let’s start.

Before I start shooting my arguments, please have a peek at Liam Neeson (I recommend you to watch the whole movie if you haven’t done this yet). The story, in short, deals with “a retired CIA agent travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris”. I would like to extract and focus on his techniques: He analysed the situation, targeted the goal, stuck to it, paid costs in order to reach it, and finally kept his promise.

Getting back to our management situation, the beginning seems easy to most of us – just think what you want to do, and you are all set; another way to do it is to write something – yes, work on it, conference relevant people, write a draft and then articulate a final work plan. However, please be aware, at this very early point things are starting to struggle, because you (and your team and/or managers) are deeply convinced that the goal is well known and absorbed, and you may all go rest on your laurels.

Please pay attention to mistake #1: you forget what you have decided, because you did not document it, or because you absently stored it in an abandoned storage site.
A worse version is to actually see it in front of you every day, but let it gather some dust on the shelf, because it mistakenly perceived easy to think freshly every day… The worst option, which you will be surprised to know that there are many people who love to choose, is to see it, remember it, but intentionally ignore it. When I ask managers why they do it, they simply say – I do not believe in plans; I know my goals; I don’t need reminders; I have significantly better ideas; I have no time for reading it, and let’s not forget the best excuse: I am focusing on the “doing”…

Well, my friends, this is mistake #2: you definitely do not remember your goals and plans. No one does. That is why you wrote it. You have a great tool, the plan or the paper with your goal written on it, use it. Read it every time you feel unconfident or search for routes. Promise you – it helps, a lot! Bear in mind, a written plan is very often better than a random idea, as great as it is. Not to mention the time consuming aspect… you go back to your written plan – you also save your expensive time!
I can assure you, there are people who will not like your strong-minded attitude of being planned, but sooner or later they will agree with your paradigm, because the results will be there load and clear.

In order to write your goal in a usable way for future examination and development – you should phrase it correctly, what do I mean by that?! Please follow my next post.

In short: keep calm and trust your written plan.

P.S. If you wish to continue reading in this topic, please consider reviewing this article on how to set goals in work plan.

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