Goal setting is an activity; some would say an art, used in many organizational situations. Individuals sometimes use it in their personal lives. Clarifying intentions in the form of written goals is a widespread practice. Think of New Year Resolutions, the long-range business strategy, or the aims of a national government.
A goal can be thought of as the hoped for outcome of an activity or task.
Frequently, simply setting goals does not yield the hoped for results. Many see this as due to failures of execution. In turn, this may be due to lack of motivation or commitment. Too often, I believe, the problem is even earlier than the execution stage, in the process of setting goals.
In strategic planning, setting goals is a focus at the second stage, namely, purpose and target setting.
At this stage, setting goals is first about clarity of organizational purpose. This is the foundation for the rest of the strategic planning process. I have dealt with in more detail at statement of purpose.
However, the need for setting goals and objectives arises throughout the strategic planning process.
You need clear goals to guide the planning process. Selecting the right persons to be involved in the process at each stage can influence the quality of information, soundness of decision-making, and level of commitment to action.
I have explained more about this under who is involved in strategic planning.
Supporting the process is the usual business of project management -
At the stage of deciding and evaluating strategies, you need to assign responsibilities through a clear process for setting goals.
Setting goals can benefit from having a clear idea of what the characteristics of useful goals are.
Remember, setting goals involves committing tasks that can achieve consciously chosen outcomes.
Research by Locke and others shows a relationship between formal goals and improved performance.
Locke and Latham (2002) report this in their Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705-717. They also found a direct relationship between goal difficulty, performance, and effort. This work extended over a few decades.
Their goal theory shows the few factors that matter in effective goal achievement. These include -
Most research supports using goals as a method of helping persons to improve their contributions to enterprise aims.
Others have refined the factors for setting goals effectively. This work has resulted in the popular framework of conditions for effective goal setting set out by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
Goal setting should give goals that are ‘SMART’.
This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Looking a little more closely -
With such SMART goals, you have a better chance of getting your team to sign on for the effort required to achieve their organization’s strategic objectives.
Return from Goal Setting to Corporate Objectives.
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