A Goal Without Feasibility is a Dream

June 17, 2021 | Author: Jeff Owen, Arête Purpose Consulting

Arete Purpose Consulting

I want to be the King of England. 

According to Ancestry.com, my lineage tracks back to 1619 in Steventon, Berkshire, England. That should make me eligible. Unfortunately, the research shows I have no blood connection to the House of Windsor - which is a requirement. And even if my 12-Great Grandfather Bartholomew Owen was related to King Wiliam III, it appears today's Prince William and his kids have the next few generations locked onto the Crown.

So, what I have is a dream, not a goal. Despite my fondest wishes, being King of England is not feasible.

If you and your team are engaged in strategic planning, you probably talk (a lot) about ambitious goals - ones that address your objectives and wishes.

You might list them on a dry erase board. Some might be big and others small. Some might deal with the most pressing needs in the present while others are exploring opportunities for the future.

The essential question before adopting these goals into your plan, though, is their feasibility. During the strategic planning process, you should ask: Is reaching the goal even possible - given a reasonable amount of time, the resources required and the market trends?

So, how do you determine if a goal is feasible for your strategic plan? Simply put, you should be SMART when creating it by determining if the goal is:

Specific

If your team uses a Thesaurus to write a goal, stop it. If your staff needs a dictionary to decipher it, rewrite it in plain English. Goal statements should not be an academic dissertation or corporate mission statement. They should identify action and set the stage for activities necessary to reach them. Avoid generalizations and cliches. Goals should be so focused that your team can create an action plan around them.

Measurable

In the popular television series "Modern Family", the cool dad character Phil often waxes on about "taking it to the next level" and "keeping it real". No one in his family knows what that means or how he plans to achieve those ambitions. Keep the Phil phrases out of your plan. Goals should define what needs to happen. Progress should be recorded on a scoreboard that tracks leading and lagging indicators of progress. The scoreboard should be accessible to team members responsible for execution and completion.

Achievable

Major League baseball players who hit for a .300 average during their careers are considered for the hall of fame. Hitting .400 for a season has happened only 20 times since 1897. Sooooo... setting a goal of hitting .500 for a season is unrealistic. Goals should challenge your organization to do better and be more successful. They should generate enthusiasm and motivate people to work hard to complete. They shouldn't be impossible and demoralizing.

Relevant

If you are a roofing company, why would you set a goal of renovating 12 bathrooms the next year - when your team is full of experienced roofers and not licensed plumbers? Be careful about creating goals that do not connect to the organization's mission and staff resources. Understand that arbitrary goals can quickly dilute your organization's focus and passion to do a good job. If you want to create a goal outside your normal scope of operations, be prepared to invest in whatever it takes to be successful.

Timed for Success

President John F. Kennedy in 1962 shocked the world (and likely the staff at NASA) by declaring a goal of landing an American on the moon by the end of that decade. The goal was specific (creating a spacecraft that could fly there), measurable (having a human step onto the lunar surface), achievable (developing technology necessary to address Sir Issac Newton's Law of Gravity) and relevant (making us the technical and political leader of our planet). The deadline of planting the American flag on the moon by 1969 drove hundreds of thousands of people to execute it by then. 

According to PositivePsychology.com, goal setting encourages a search for new strategies. The process enhances our skills and pushes our abilities - which helps your team's self-confidence. 

A SMART process helps your team think positively about the future and bolsters your team's ability to take action, instead of sitting around and dreaming about what could be done.

Jeff Owen is a Partner with Arête Purpose Consulting and a Partner with Clever Dogs Media. He is proud of his British heritage, even if it means being a subject rather than a royal.