Ok, I will admit it I went for a clickbait title. And no one fell for it. It
is that time of the year where organizations are starting Goal setting for the
year. There are different ways of doing this: Pushing Goals where the
management tell you what your goals, Pulling Goals where the employees come upwith them and managers then nod their heads politely and agree, and the
Combo-platter where both have input. There is absolutely nothing wrong with
either of these methods for creating goals.

To write the goals they tell you to use the SMART method. Created
in 1981 on the surface it sounds logical. The mnemonic is for Specific,
Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. All incredibly useful for
creating goals. But, after a one-on-one meeting and the goals are decided is
where it fails. Your new year’s resolutions can be created the same way and how
many of them have you every completed?

So, what is wrong with goals? Nothing is wrong with goals; you should have
them. What is wrong is that it that the process mostly ends there. [Actually,
based on feedback I get I can go into why goals should be at a team level not
at individual level as part 4] What makes teams succeed at hitting goals, what
makes individual good at hitting goals is not having them. Having a goal is
just that, a target to aim for.

What I would like the next step to be is finding a ‘system’ to achieve your
goal. In fact, most people have done this without thinking about it. Have you
ever created flash cards to quiz yourself about a topic in school? Have you
ever written something over and over to memorize it? Have you done math
problems 100s of times till you got it write. These are ‘practices’ that help
you achieve a goal. Now those systems are documented, a system you create for
your team/individual goal may need to be created.

If you set a goal to lose weight as a New Year’s resolution, the next step must
be what diet are you going to be on, what workout to do and steps. Some of the
most successful people who get fit schedule their workouts on their calendar,
plan their meals, do shopping and pre-make meals and stick to it. This system
is more effective than just having a goal.

What is the system will allow you for your team to hit their goals is
something as a leader you need to solve. In the Agile development world, it
starts with something called Sprint Zero, where the team comes up with
processes, ceremonies, interactions etc. for how the team works. Getting this
setup early is a must, everyone must be on the same page. This should be a team
activity with everyone involved in giving feedback.

As part of the process there needs to be a check to see if the system is
working. In Agile this is called a retrospective. This is where the team has to
take a look at the plan it setup and determine if it is helping reach the goal.
Make changes to the system, see if they work, if not undo. Do not be afraid to
make a mistake! It is ok to try something and fail but understand what went wrong.

A sports analogy gets thrown in. During a season, and often during a game
coaches make changes. Whether it is the players on the field, strategy, mindset
etc. Even when winning a coach can still see things that are not working perfectly,
they still may find something to tweak.

If the system is working well, apply it to other goals. The better you get
at your system the easier it is to achieve goals. And as stated before, just
because something is working does not mean it cannot be improved! Another link
to sports, often teams hire coaches that were successful, and part of the
reasoning is the coach will bring his or her ‘system.’ Companies do this with
successful managers up to C-level executives. No one is hired because they
‘create’ SMART goals, people are hired because they reach them.

So, it is ok to have SMART goals, but being SMART does not get you to reach
them. Having a system, constantly improving the system is what drives
successful teams.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.