November 08, 2008

Goal setting

We can do wonders if we can identify what exactly our GOAL is.

As an individual or a team, we must know what we would like to achieve in order to have a clear focus. As a manager it is imporatant for us to ensure that our team members know precisely what we would like to achieve, and what their individual deliverables are. Often we are engrossed in ambiguities. Ambiguities, to me, are just a state where we do not know which path to take and what decisions to make to reach a specific goal. Being able to handle ambiguities well is extremely important.

When we set goals there are few rules which we may follow:
  1. Document our goal - Write it down. Think over it to ensure it accurately describes what we would like to achieve. Refine it and make it brief such that the 'goal statement' is crisp. Revise it such that it is clear to anyone who reads it.

  2. Define a timeline - All goals must be attached with a timeline. When would we like to reach our goal? Without a timeline there is a potential to loose focus on it over time, without realizing the fact that we are astray. However, it is extremely important to define practical and realistic timelines. Many projects face delivery pressure because realistic timelines were not planned. A tight deadline agreed with the customer creates immense pressure for the employees and stake holders and the fall out is a poor quality of delivery. We should be careful about this and if required, negotiate with the stake holder of the deliverable.

  3. Create mile stones - If our goal has a vast deliverable, for example delivery of a complex project, define smaller mile stones. These mile stones should be like sub goals leading towards the larger goal. Attach a time line to each of the mile stones and track progress. It allows to check that we are on track.
One of the useful method, I have been practicing is to write down on a paper every Friday evening, what am I going to do on each of the days next week. It clearly gives me an idea what are the things I need to work on. My deliverables are clear with no chance of missing out a task. As a matter of practice if we note down things, it clearly does not go out of our mind and at the same time help us to prioritize.

Seeing a list of 'tasks' which are the milestones to my goals gives a fair understanding about the time I would need to complete them. There would be tasks which would be easy to do and some which would require some thought. But overall it gives a complete control of the things I need to deliver. It gives me much needed control on my time.

A definite goal setting also helps in preventing any rework. If we know exactly what we would need to deliver, then it is much easier to plan. Precise planning would automatically increase the probability of delivering right the first time.

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