Businesses and individuals should set goals when starting any type of project. To facilitate this work, we present 7 simple steps to formulate objectives correctly so that they become achievable goals.
Before undertaking any initiative or project, at least, you must formulate a specific objective you want to reach, otherwise you would be walking aimlessly and you would never know if the path you are traveling is or is not the right one.
Step 1. Identification of the Objective to Formulate
Although it seems very elementary, the following fundamental aspects in the identification of objectives are generally neglected:
Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable (assignable), relevant, and timed.
They must be positively established.
The first aspect, SMART objectives, is key to formulating objectives when trying to execute a project. It is not enough to establish that profits will be generated with this or that development. We must specifically determine the achievement we want to achieve. For example, the specific amount of profit to be generated.
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Also, the objectives must be measurable in quantitative terms. For example, it is not enough to say that market share will increase. For the objective to be formulated correctly, it is necessary to establish in what proportion the market share will increase and which segments will be affected.
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Similarly, the objectives must be established in such a way that we know that due to the characteristics and conditions of the market and the company, they can be achieved or achieved.
The objectives can have hierarchies or categories depending on their focus. There are general objectives, which affect the entire company and will be related to its object, vision, mission and economic activity.
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These objectives will be very relevant if they are related to the key or strategic issues with which the general results of the company will be achieved. There are other more specific ones that can be established by areas and benefit only a part of the company.
These specific objectives will also be relevant to the extent that they relate to the most strategic issues of the specific areas. To determine which topics are the most relevant, you must prioritize. One way to do this is by using the Pareto principle.
Finally, the objectives must have a time limit, so that the established goals can be achieved within certain maximum times. This temporary term is also necessary to measure progress in meeting the objectives and schedules established in the action plan.
The other aspect mentioned in the identification of the objective is the focus on the events that you want to occur in order to establish it in a positive way. For example, “the profit of $ 100,000 in the third quarter will allow our share price to grow by 5%.” Thus, the achievement of the objective is emphasized.
Keeping these SMART elements in mind will make the objectives intelligently formulable.
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Step 2. Identification of the benefits and beneficiaries of meeting the objectives
Once the objectives have been identified, we proceed to determine what will be the benefits that the organization, its people, its shareholders, its clients, its suppliers and all the agents with whom it has contact will be obtained.
By reaching goals, you will be taking steps towards a better state, be it in the inventory level, in annual sales, in the reduction of waste in the processes, etc.
These can be general, but if they are particular, they must be identified and listed in order to make them known, not only to those who will benefit. but to the organization as a whole.
Step 3. Temporary organization
Having advanced the first two steps, time limits should be set for the achievement of each objective and therefore for its follow-up.
When a certain period of time is established, a sense of urgency is being created to carry out the actions that take place. It is recommended in short projects of a maximum of 120 days, to work on a daily basis, while in longer projects the basis could be weekly or biweekly.
It is appropriate to develop schedules that allow dividing the objective into small pieces that translate into logical steps to follow.
Thus, the possibility of feeling that the final objective will not be achieved is closed, since it will be working on a day-to-day basis to achieve smaller objectives than added together, they will allow achieving the most important.
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For example, if we start a project that seeks to reduce costs in the production plant, its duration is three months and the objective is to reduce costs by 150 million after three months, it will be less overwhelming if we try to reduce 50 million per month, 25 fortnightly, 12.5 weekly and 1.67 daily.
Step 4. Identification of the main obstacles to achieving the objectives formulated
If what you want is to achieve goals, then you have to know what are the possible problems that may be found on the way to their achievement.
Otherwise, you will not be able to make plans or advance strategies to solve them. It is therefore important to establish and manage the risks that may arise, activating actions, processes, and habitual procedures that control or minimize the possibility of the materialization of a risk.
“Each problem carries in itself the seed of its own solution”Stanley Arnold
Step 5. Identification of the skills and knowledge required to achieve the objectives
Since the steps to follow and the possible problems to be faced are known, it is necessary to determine what skills and knowledge those who develop the project will have.
The project manager does not have to be an expert in all areas. What you do have to have is the ability to find the information you need and the ability to identify the skills and knowledge that are required.
Step 6. Identification of individuals, groups, organizations, and companies to work with
If you go to the right people, you will find the right solution.
For example, if one seeks to improve production levels, surely those indicated to advance the project are the workers of the plant.
If you want to improve the level of sales, then probably the sales team, the commercial management, and the customer service department should advance the task.
This is relevant for the fulfillment of the objectives formulated.
Step 7. Development of the action plan based on the objectives formulated
Goals will not be achieved simply by determining them specifically or by knowing what barriers to overcome.
The formulated objectives and the established goals will be achieved if a judicious action plan is executed parallel to a timeline.
Many of the tasks to be carried out will have to be divided into these seven steps and will become small objectives.
The truth is that the action plan is the daily work under conditions of prior planning that contemplate from the tasks to be carried out, the time that will be dedicated to them, the people who will execute them, to the contingencies that may arise and their possible solutions.
Source: McCullough, Mamie. Learn to say I can: how to overcome the fear of failure. Editorial Grijalbo, 1991.
Cadiat, Anne-Christine. Steffens, Guillaume. The SMART criteria: The method for setting goals successfully. Plurilingua Publishing