Hard, not impossible

Goals should stretch you and your teams. But, they also need to be motivating. Remember: Hard, not impossible.

Setting goals can be challenging for teams, departments or organizations.

In the book Radical Focus, Christina Wodtke describes how to use OKRs to create a sense of direction and keep teams aligned on the same goals. In it, she states that Objectives (O) should be qualitative, plain English, and compelling enough to get people out of bed and motivated every day. They aren’t financial goals, operational focused, or any other metric-based objective. Instead they should be related to a mission, vision or strategy. Something like ‘build the best product in such and such market’, ’Hire the best technology team’ or ‘Win our first landmark client’. It’s the Key Results (KR) where you add specifics around numbers – these could be in percentages, number of users, financial goals/measures or some other indicator to help you understand if you are making progress towards your objective.

She says that getting the OKRs established first time round typically go wrong because the KRs can often be poorly defined and not well time bound (somewhere between a quarter and a year tends to be about right). One thing she suggests is that the OKRs should be hard, but not impossible. When setting them she suggest having a confidence factor against each KR where you should be calibrating for 5/10. This means you have 50% chance of hitting it when you set out. Each week, you can review your confidence factor and share why it might be moving. Ultimately, if you are 10/10 then the goal was likely too easy. If you get to 1/10 it was far too hard and unachievable. Google state that if you’re doing OKRs well you should hit around 70% of your ultimate target. That would be a good stretch.

Goals should stretch you and your teams. But, they also need to be motivating. Remember: Hard, not impossible.

Consider
Think about your current goals. What confidence factor would you give in meeting them in the time period you’ve planned? What would help you develop more confidence?

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