I guess most of us have heard of SMART objectives, we have changed it subtly to align with the aspirations of “breakthrough” businesses.
Stretching (and specific)
Measurable (and monitored)
Ambitious (aiming high)
Relevant (and resourced effectively)
Time Based (and target driven)
Yet we still see lots of examples of company objectives that hinder rather than help. In our experience many companies set SMART objectives but overlook some quite fundamental things:-
- Objectives are destinations. They are the ‘where’ not the ‘why’ or ‘how’. Objectives are the results, the outcomes you are trying to achieve. Don’t confuse them with the ways and means
- Objectives need to be ‘single track’. In other words each expresses a single theme. They tell you to do one thing not two or for instance you could set an objective that states “improve sales by 25% next year”. You should never have an objective that says “improve sales by 25% next year while improving net margins by 3%”. What happens if you do achieve the 25% increase in sales, but margins only improve by 1%? Have you achieved the objective or not? Such twin track objectives are confusing and don’t guide your decision-making. Make your objectives single track – always!
- Objectives need to be consistent, in concert with each other, all pulling the business in the direction mapped out in the vision
Finally objectives should be prioritised. If you were told that you would achieve only one of your objectives, which one would you pick? They may all be ‘vital few’ but some will be just that little bit more vital than the others.