Excellence University Blog

WATER Tip: Well-defined Activities

by Dr. Brian Higley

December 26th, 2010

Well-defined activities can be extremely helpful when SMART Goals are not being achieved regularly due to confusion about how to do so.  Activity clarity is achieved by breaking down SMART Goals into extremely small, simple tasks that are either “done” or “not done.”  When broken down well enough, there is no way to say that these small activities are “almost done”; they are either completed or not completed (which is why we often call them “Yes-No Activities”).

For example, one Yes-No Activity necessary for the achievement of the SMART Goal “Take out all trash every Wednesday before 9AM” might be: “Pick up the trash in the waste basket (in a specific room)” another Yes-No Activity might be: “Put the trash on the dumpster.”  These small activities are Yes-No Activities because they are either done or not done.  An answer to the  question: “Is the trash currently in the dumpster?” can only properly be answered in two ways: (a) “yes, it is” or (b) “no, it is not.”  The ability to break SMART Goals down into well-defined activities is a critical skill associated with Execution Excellence.  On the other hand, inability to do so is one of the most powerful contributors to the Execution Crisis.

  • NOTE TO THOSE USING THE MISSION FULFILLMENT SYSTEM A common indicator of well-defined activities is fewer instances of individuals wondering how, specifically, to achieve SMART Goals (questions like, “How do I achieve this goal?”).  For instance, well-defined activities in relation to the SMART Goal “Take out all trash every Wednesday before 9AM,” results in little to no confusion about Yes-No Activities related to goal achievement (for example,picking up the trash in all rooms before 8:30 AM, then putting it down on the curb before 9 AM).
  • Those with well-defined activities on The Mission Fulfillment System tend to have high Personal “Go-Active %” scores (scores of 80 and above) on the Progress/People subtab.  This subtab is located to the right of the Progress/Items subtab on the upper left-hand side of the main Progress Tab.  Personal Go-Active % scores are located on the far right-hand side of the screen on the Progress/People subtab, and are displayed as bar graphs.  Low Personal Go-Active % scores could indicate a need for more Activity Clarity.
  • FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT ON THE MISSION FULFILLMENT SYSTEM: Click here to for more information and click here to sign up.

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Article Filed under: 1. WATER Game Scorecard Tips

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Lindsey E  |  October 11th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Using well-defined, yes or no activities is what enabled me to graduate college a year early with the highest honors. I made it a goal when I first started college to graduate in 3 years, but without the planning and follow through of well-defined activities, I would have never been able to do this. To start with such a large goal is not abnormal, I hear many people who speak of wanting to be in the Olympics or be at the top of their company. What differentiates them, however, is their ability to fill in the “gaps,” or the well-defined yes or no activities. For example, for me to be able to graduate in 3 years, I had to come up with a tentative schedule of how many credits I needed to take each semester, in what order to take them to make sure the prerequisites were tackled, and still make sure I took what I needed to for my appropriate major and minor. I broke this activity down into further activities, from just having a tentative schedule each semester to having a solidified schedule of classes. Did I register for the proper classes and take the proper credits? Yes. But that’s not all. Not only did I have to do that, I also had to do well in my classes (because retaking a class would put me behind, plus I wanted to be in top shape for graduate school), and make sure I stayed on top of everything since I was taking a heavier load than normal. To break this down further, I came up with a variety of yes-no activities I could check off my to-do list as I completed them. Did I go to class on time? Did I do my homework and submit it in a timely manner? Did I study for my exam at least a week in advance? Did I do well on my exam? Did I review what I missed? Etc. The list went on and on. By the second semester of my second year of college, I really had this system down of defining my activities well and efficiently completing my yes-no activities. I got so good at this that I was able to take 19 summer credits (9 in summer A, 10 in summer B), while also working a part time job. And I did fine; it was not overwhelming to me. It did take a lot of planning and high efficiency, but I was able to do it. And because of that, as well as what I maintained through the rest of my semesters, I was able to graduate a year early with Summa cum Laude. People always ask how I am able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. The answer is this, well-defined activities. Instead of waiting for something to fall in place, I go and make it happen on my own, and well-defined activities lets you take control and do just that!

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