Excellence University Blog

WATER Tip: Well-defined Goals

by Dr. Brian Higley

December 26th, 2010

Well-defined goals (also known as “SMART goals”) are achieved via constant attention to the development of specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, time-bound steps toward fulfilling broader objectives.  An indication that this is being attained is reduction in the following major barriers to Execution Excellence:

  1. fewer instances of individuals wondering what to do (and/or doing nothing) and
  2. fewer instances of things getting done that others never wanted to have done (and/or on redoing things in a way that is more well-aligned with larger objectives).

For instance, if one has a well-defined goal in relation to an objective (e.g., a SMART goal like this: “Take out all trash every Wednesday before 9AM” in relation to an objective like this: “Keep the office/home neat and clean”), there is less confusion about what to do up-front and fewer instances of energy being either (a) wasted (e.g., Some trash being taken out after the garbage collectors already came – which means energy is already wasted and more may need to be used to bring the trash back in until next week) or (b) not be used by all stake-holders in a way that is aligned with the objective (e.g., Some people taking out trash while others waste time sitting around instead of helping others complete the objective of a neat and clean office/home).

Obviously, a lack of well-defined goals can be a major block to Execution Excellence; it is critical that valuable resources like time, energy and money be focused on getting the most important things done instead of wasted on activities that are not as valuable and/or on having to do things over again.

  • NOTE TO THOSE USING THE MISSION FULFILLMENT SYSTEM A common indicator of well-defined goals are fewer instances of social loafing and/or time spent on achievement of goals that are not optimally supportive of important objectives.  For example, achievement of an unclear goal like “provide excellent customer service” can leave people confused about what was actually achieved (“excellent customer service” can mean different things to different people), while “shake every customer’s hand and ask each customer how they are doing” indicates what was completed more clearly.  Your system indicates strong Goal Clarity via goals that all parties understand on your 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 (individual goals can be viewed by clicking on objectives on the Progress/People subtab).
  • FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT ON THE MISSION FULFILLMENT SYSTEM: Click here to for more information and click here to sign up.

FINAL NOTE: If you were linked to this article by a video or email, please return to that link and proceed with any other instructions that you deem helpful.

Article Filed under: 1. WATER Game Scorecard Tips

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Evita P  |  March 30th, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I enjoy the well-put point that a goal is worthless if it isn’t well-defined. The ability to state a specific and reasonable time-established goal allows for a guaranteed successful completion of the goal if the individual who wrote the goal continues to pay attention to it. SMART goals allow for the creator to stay motivated to complete a goal because they’re so clear. It’s hard to dismiss a task when it is written as something that can be accomplished in as little as two minutes.
    By focusing our energy onto these goals that are designed to further productivity in our lives we are guaranteed not only to cross a few things off our list that day, but also have the possibility to save our time and money for other things that matter as well.

  • 2. Evita P  |  April 6th, 2016 at 10:31 am

    In relation to my previous post, I think it’s important to note the effect of an individual’s cognitive schemas when determining how a well-defined goal can consistently end up completed.
    What is a cognitive schema and how can it make my goals be regularly completed, you ask?
    If you take a brief look at Jean Piaget and what he has to say about cognitive theory, schemas are ways to organize knowledge. Each aspect of the knowledge or ideas that we collect, consist of various concepts that can include actions, emotions, and objects, among other things. Apparently, these schemas are collected and formed by us to help us understand and respond to certain situations.
    What’s great about schemas and the way we define our goals is that if the goals we write continue to be well defined and SMART, we have the ability to set the level of achievements for these established goals. If we get one successful goal out of taking the time out to make sure the written goal is well defined, then the success of that goal may lead us to want to take out the same time to write another well-defined goal with an equally successful level of achievement!
    Using this information you could form your own schema based upon the understanding of how your efforts in constructing a goal can operate on the actual success of the goal itself. It could be a schema based on your sense of self-efficacy in relation to successfully written goals that are destined to work out.
    To put this idea plainly, if I worked so hard on making a study guide and got an A this time on the test and I work equally as hard on a study guide for the next test, I’m going to get an A again!
    (If you’re still not getting what I’m saying about Piaget, check out this website http://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html#collapseOne It’s got some great information on schemas and how they’re even some already programmed in babies)

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