Number 8 - Objectives – will you achieve them; how do you know?

Many of us at this time of year will be setting or reviewing objectives, whether for the next financial year or the next three months.  Some will have quite sophisticated systems but for others its maybe not much more than a finger in the air – ‘what do you think’ conversation. The concept of SMART long forgotten – perhaps because we think its embedded in us.

It may not matter how you plan your objectives.  What is important is how you go about achieving them and above all ensuring that you do. Ideally it’s both.

In Tricordant we use the system known as OKR’s – Objectives and Key Results.  Despite the clue being in the name – objectives ‘and’ key results it is very easy to forget the importance of the latter and just focus on the objectives.

It is super important to set good clear objectives and the theory of OKRs is that you should only ever achieve 70% of your objective, because to achieve more is a sign that your objective is not demanding enough.

In my planning mind I like to think of a 10 year strategy that is brought down to 5 years, 1 year and then quarters.  By this I get a sense that what I am doing today is not only contributing to achieving the objectives for the next 3 months but also contributing to the 10 year goal.  This is not for everyone and in this more volatile and uncertain world where being agile is the mantra for many, planning is almost an unacceptable word and action.

Wherever you stand on these issues there is one unavoidable factor, that many inadvertently or seek to avoid – and to their peril in most instances.  Measuring achievement – the key results!

Back in the day I was taught to write my objectives starting with action words such as ‘to develop’, ‘to achieve’ and in and of themselves this is fine and for many still the standard we use today.  Unfortunately for many objectives this can make measurement difficult and therefore avoidable.  What measurement do you put alongside a ‘to develop’ objective.  Even a ‘to achieve’ can often be difficult to put clear performance indicators against. For many it is simply reduced to a yes/no was the objective achieved.

So, as you work on your objectives, and those of your team do give some thought to measurement and just how you are going to know that you are on track to achieve your 70% – and that’s assuming you are developing really stretching objectives.

All the very best
John Taylor

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