Three Tests For Goals

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

Yesterday’s post talked about traction as the ability to set and hit goals.  Here are three tests for goals to determine if they well-formed for your startup team.

Three Tests For Goals

  1. Understandable: can everyone on the team understand them and how their efforts contribute?
  2. Practical: are they feasible, perhaps with some stretching, from where you are today?
  3. Measurable: not everything that counts can be counted, but measurable goals make it easier for the team to align efforts and ensure that there is a real working agreement.

This is a little simpler than “SMART” which Robert Rubin has pointed out in “Will the Real Smart Goals Please Stand Up” has come to have a multitude of meanings:

  • S Simple, specific with a stretch, sensible, significant.
  • M Meaningful, motivating.
  • A Acceptable, achievable, action-oriented, accountable, as-if-now, agreed, agreed-upon, actionable, assignable.
  • R Realistic, reviewable, relative, rewarding, reasonable, results-oriented, relevant to a mission.
  • T Timelines, time-frame, time-stamped, tangible, timely, time-based, time-specific, time-sensitive, timed, time-scaled, time-constrained, time-phased, time-limited, time-driven, time-related, time-line, timed and toward what you want, truthful.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
William Bruce Cameron

Run Your Business Like An Aquarium So All Can See What’s Going On

“A business should be run like an aquarium, where everybody can see what’s going on…That’s the only way to make sure that people understand what you’re doing, and why, and have some input into deciding where you are going. Then, when the unexpected happens, they know how to react and react quickly.”
Jack Stack from page 72 of “The Great Game of Business

By allowing everyone to orient directly to key elements of a situation you speed response and allow everyone to learn.

“The key insight uncovered by the study of complex systems in recent years is this: the only way for a system to evolve into something new is to have a flexible structure. A tiny tadpole can change into a frog, but a 747 Jumbo Jet can’t add six inches to its length without crippling itself. This is why distributed being is so important to learning and evolving systems. A decentralized, redundant organization can flex without distorting its function, and thus it can adapt. It can manage change. We call that growth.

The song goes: No one is in charge. We can’t predict the future.
Now hear the flip side of the album: We are all steering. And we can learn to anticipate what is immediately ahead. To learn is to live.”

Kevin Kelly in “Out of Control

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