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Farooq Omar
CEO SVN Corporate Consultants
@Chuck, you made a thoughtful and perceptive comment as it ...
Chuck Dennis
Strategic Planner Emeritus (Retired)
Farooq, I like your extended follow-up comment on SMART v. HARD, e...
threat and motivation, rather than something which can create 'drive' and challenge.
The reality is different than the goa...
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Smart or hard goals


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The two different approaches in the organizational structure and design, pertaining to the leadership & environmental pressures are taken as discussion.

The leadership and management behavior towards dealing with their intent is explored

Published in: Business
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Smart or hard goals

  1. 1. SMART OR HARD GOALS? Farooq Omar CEO SVN Corporate Consultants @Chuck, you made a thoughtful and perceptive comment as it is usually evident in practice. I just want to make a point that in many cases, when we get into estimations for type of goals sometimes we find ourselves in a situation of where it seems that our estimation was no more than a guestimate. SMART becomes HARD, and it gets very intricate, problematic and knotty to change or transform the 'shift' caused by the variations back to primary intent. The measurable becomes distorted. Smarter gets a whip and Harder seems more plausible at times. It, thus becomes a 'chessboard', where measured and originally deduced moves needs 'revision', therefore, essentially, the process of goal design needs a flexible approach, as 'Strategy formulation has to be flexible & porous' for continuous adaption for improvement. Therefore, in my humble view,, one needs to do some rigorous assessment of how best the dream can be realized based on organization's resources and competencies, and why? The fundamental factor affecting all businesses and scenarios is high value of 'delta', and that is the 'RISK'. The logical thing would be having a 'balance' as previously commented and process design of goal attainment has to be proactive in retrospect. The 'WHY"? part I mentioned should explain and define the purpose of setting goals first. Do you want your steak to be rare, medium or well done, and then you follow the correct steps leading to a process. Keeping all other variables (heat & Time), you'll get your steak according to your intent, but slight variation in external factors (heat & time) will ruin your steak and you have to either redo it or leave the thought of having a steak. This is where goals are defined, to be SMART or HARD, or a blend. This situation, expertise and impacting pressures and shift patterns would be the deciders, but the managers needs to be very receptive and perceptive in understanding the true picture of now and 'then'. According to a study conducted by' 'The Leadership IQ', out of sample of 4,182 participating top managers, over 4000 opinionated that HARD goals are more challenging and motivated for more drive to achieve, logic being that people attached to such type are more devoted and affix and attaining their goals. I would conclude by saying that ‘it is the organizational culture mindset, capacity, core competencies and very importantly, the type of industrial environment the company is in’; creates a difference in the style and format of achieving its goals. A low volatility industrial sector will have no problem in taking SMART’ goals as its methodology, where,’ drive and motivation’ won't be too much required, in contrast to fast paced ‘innovation based industrial arena, where there are tremendous pressures, challenges and matching rewards. Where, there is a need for emotions, urgency to perform (desire) and extra commitment ( stretch) has to be entrenched and connected with the goal achievement, is the requisite (Harder). It is better to decide before hand, which direction to take, rather than get into switching. Traditionally, the environment used to be less volatile and disruptive, easy to predict with little variations and SMART worked well then in majority of the cases.26 days ago
  2. 2. Chuck Chuck Dennis Strategic Planner Emeritus (Retired) Farooq, I like your extended follow-up comment on SMART v. HARD, especially your idea of being smart about selecting your really hard goals. I want to push back on the idea some have suggested that you need to have complete control before you set a goal, and even, to a limited extent, on the idea that you have to know in advance how to get there. "I don't control it" is the classic excuse of those who don't want to set or take responsibility for achieving goals. The fact is, in the real world, you have full control over almost nothing. Heck, I sometimes don't have full control over my own behavior, let alone the behavior of other people I will need to achieve most goals. No meaningful goal is going to be under the full control of any person or organization. What you MUST have, before you set a goal, is significant INFLUENCE over the outcome. Typically, you or your organization will control some aspects, but to achieve your goals, you're going to have to work with -- influence -- a host of other people and organizations. In fact, as the first step in exercising influence in your own organization, you're going to have to convince your own naysayers that, despite the risks, they can and should pitch in to help achieve meaningful goals that neither you nor they fully control. As an example, Farooq mentioned chess. Your goal is clear, to retire your opponent's King. You don't control the outcome; rather, you influence your opponent's moves, and your opponent influences yours. What's more, YOU DON'T KNOW HOW YOU WILL ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL. You have some ideas, and an agreed upon set of rules (you often don't even get that in real life). But there is risk. Risk and influence. Move and counter-move. You learn from your opponent, your opponent learns from you, and you both try to foresee the future. Eventually, one of you does a better job of it and wins. The fact is, any goal worth achieving is going to involve risk and influence, not certainty and control. Being SMART about HARD goals means having a good idea of risks and benefits going in, and judging that the potential benefits are worth the risks. Being SMART in achieving HARD goals means managing risk (agility and adjustment are key) and effectively influencing (and being influenced by; listening and observing are also key) not just those you are working with, but competitors, regulators, and others in your environment Farooq Omar CEO SVN Corporate Consultants @Sherry, you are right, sometimes, even measurable and so called 'achievable' goals becomes 'HARDER",. therefore, the conversion possibility is always there. Also, there is a catch to it, when SMART goals later on are not monitored during their process, the confusion and lack of clarity and proper 'performance' cannot be gauged adequately, resulting in increase in 'difficulty' to perform the tasks to a degree where whole organizational goals are not met and even crisis occur. This 'difficulty' acts as a
  3. 3. threat and motivation, rather than something which can create 'drive' and challenge. The reality is different than the goal setting theory, where anything can happen, where there is no 'constant' factors and everything is dynamic. Therefore, it does not imply that SMART are dumb & HARD is the answer, There is a strong relationship between the degree of difficulty and performance centric motivators. Too much, the graph will have a negative slope 'downwards'. This topic is much more trickier than it looks when one takes into account of outcomes based on 'evidence based management & practice of both ends of success and failures Chuck Chuck Dennis Strategic Planner Emeritus (Retired) Sherry, you're right about our "raging agreement" and that goals should be both smart and hard, and I like Farooq's additions, particularly the thought that goal progress needs to be monitored. Further, there needs to be at least a small staff to monitor goal progress, gather intelligence about the organization's changing environment, and work with leadership to change goals and strategies when needed. You're right as well that strategic goals shouldn't be changed every year on some annual schedule. Most businesses, however, and certainly governments, have a natural annual cycle revolving around their fiscal years where you assess the previous year's financial and performance results, plan what you will do over the next year (or more) based on your progress and your long term, strategic plan, and budget appropriately. Performance, then, should be monitored constantly and discussed on a regular basis (perhaps monthly) with leadership, with an eye to making quick changes to bring lagging measures back on track. On a longer (annual) basis, you assess whether you did what you said you would and met your performance goals for the year and why. For planning, the end of one annual cycle and the beginning is a good time, not necessarily to change your goals, but to consider whether you should make changes to plans, strategies, and perhaps long term strategic plans and performance goals in light of your progress and failures, along with changes -- new opportunities and threats -- in your environment. Budgeting, of course, is key to both planning and performance. During the fiscal year, as you adjust to improve performance and keep both your initiatives and performance targets on track, shifting funds, insofar as it is allowed, has an important role. The budget process (for business, the bottom line) is also a major source of pressure for process and efficiency improvement, to get as much as possible out of each dollar spent. And, of course, forward looking budgets need to support what the organization proposes to do to meet both annual and longer term plans and performance goals. So there is a lot to be said for making planning and performance as well as budgeting parts of an organization's natural fiscal year cycle. Not enslaved to it, but an important part.