Setting Goals

A positive way to create an organizational bond is through goal-setting. Agreed upon goals can unite a group and focus energy in a common direction. Goal setting provides a framework for team involvement. Goals reflect the voice of a community or group of individuals. A goal must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time specific. 

Goals are the specific plans to obtain an organization’s mission and they come in one of two forms:

  • Subjective goals deal with changes in attitudes and a desired outcome that measures progress not the actual goal. (Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech is an example of a subjective goal).
  • Objective goals are directly related to a specific plan. For example, John Kennedy’s Apollo Moon Program speech identified a national goal. “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” This represents an objective measurable goal. Never assume that your organization cannot benefit from goal-setting. Goal setting and careful planning is a mainstay to every successful organization. Your goals should seek to create a sum that is greater than the individual parts.

Goals can be long term, short term, strategic or tactical:

  • Strategic goals are grand themes or campaigns…viewable from 5,000 feet in the air. Strategies are big steps. 
  • Tactical goals are the specific small steps to accomplish one large strategic goal. Tactical goals will involve specific steps that may develop over time. 

Consider the organization whose strategic goals are to promote tourism, refurbish parks, and increase civic involvement. The tactical goals within that strategy might include designing a satisfaction survey for visitors within the area, accessing the number of amenities, creating an index of destinations, or identifying landmarks in your community that need renovation. 

Many organizations assume that goals fail for many reasons. Actually, goals fail for just a few reasons:

  • They are poorly defined and are not attainable
  • They lack a “buy in” from participants
  • They set-up conflicts between organizational members
  • They lack sufficient resources to be attained.

Successful goals require consensus from the participants and commitment to the group --- in other words, compromise.

Successful organizational goals will:

  • Set a blueprint for reaching a future state of being –different from the current
  • Create desired results
  • Provide opportunities to remove current barriers to success
  • Contribute to the mission statement.

The first step in goal setting should be a brainstorming or idea-sharing session. This session should be distinct from other meetings and should be in an atmosphere and environment that encourages creativity. The process is not as simple as it sounds.

Below are several suggestions for effective ways to create safe brainstorming environments:

  • Delphi Method
    All participants send ideas during an established period to a person who will not be involved in the decision process. The person lists the ideas in a common format that will not identify the participant and distribute the lists to all committee members. Members evaluate ideas without identifying their own. 
  • Popcorn
    Participants write ideas on paper at the meeting. Participants wad the paper and throw it into a trash can in the middle of the room. When time is up the facilitator distributes the wadded ideas randomly. Participants read the idea they receive.
  • Writing on the Walls
    Butcher paper is distributed to groups of participants. Participant groups write ideas on the butcher paper. When writing time is up, facilitator gives the group a break and puts the paper on the walls. Time is given for everyone to read.

    The most important element of this phase of the process is to not evaluate or react to the goal proposals. The more goal proposals, the better. This phase of the process is simply to collect data on proposed goals. 

    Once the list of ideas is established a pattern should emerge. Some Ideas will be subjective and some will be objective. Some will be strategic and some will be tactical. The group should be involved in identifying the characteristics of their ideas and organize them according to their strategic or tactical category. 

    The next step is to see if any of the tactical goals support any of the strategic goals. If not, another round of brainstorming can be used to develop supporting goals. 

    Finally, have the group prioritize the goals. This can be done using consensus (“Do we agree that our first goal is…”), voting, or weighted voting (in which participants are given 5 votes to cast).