Wednesday, January 31, 2007

S.M.A.R.T. versus I.T.O.C.A. goals

Our course entitled (though apparently not just about) "Managing User Experience Groups," does address a few basic management topics, including setting individual and group goals.

During the first offering of the course early last year, we included a short section on SMART goals -- types of goals to which I believe I was first introduced when I was a Director at Studio Archetype. Indeed, one of my responsibilities at Studio Archetype was to help those who reported to me set goals that were Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-dimensioned (aka SMART).

However, when we addressed this topic during the course, we learned that most everyone was familiar with SMART goals. But perhaps more interestingly, many groaned as the topic was introduced. So, during the second offering of the course late last year, we didn't address such goals in class, though we provided students with a relevant, optional reading.

Some of those who groan on encountering the topic of SMART goals might be particularly interested in what Robert Middleton has to say about them:
"You've probably read a lot about goal setting. Perhaps you've heard of the famous "S.M.A.R.T." formula - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Specific. Well that's OK, but it's not really the best way to set goals.

To set and achieve goals you need to be unreasonable.

We tend to completely undermine ourselves by being reasonable. And unfortunately, the S.M.A.R.T. formula is totally reasonable. It keeps you inside a very rigid box of what's possible.

But why do you want to set goals that are possible? You want to set goals that are impossible. (At least from your current point of view.) You want to set goals that set you on fire.

Goals that take passion, sweat, blood and tears to achieve.

... I give you my not-so-famous I.T.O.C.A. Formula:

1. IMAGINE you're on your death bed looking back. And you say to your loved ones gathered around, "You know I've had a pretty good life, but I really wish I'd done X." What is X? That's your unreasonable goal.

2. THINK about it all the time. Don't push it out of your mind. Obsess about it; brainstorm and draw mind maps. Get the idea out of the abstract and into the concrete. Form a mastermind group and kick around ideas. Make it real.

3. Be aware of OPPORTUNITIES and coincidences that present themselves. You couldn't see them before, but now, with increased focus on your goal, you'll start seeing, reading, hearing about things that are connected to your goal. Explore these things. They're there to help you.

4. When the time is right, make a COMMITMENT. On the TV poker shows they talk about going "ALL IN." Don't hold back. Make a promise, not based on knowing how to achieve your goal, but on your desire to make it real. If you have to know how ahead of time, you'll never take the leap.

5. ACTION. Now it's time for the real work, and that consists of putting one foot in front of the other every single day. Keep things alive by creating action plans, researching, asking for assistance, and networking with like-minded people. In other words, create an environment in which the goal can be realized.

Imagine, Think, Opportunities, Commitment, Action: I.T.O.C.A.Now that's a pretty bad acronym compared to S.M.A.R.T., but I promise you it's a better formula for getting what you truly desire."
Robert's full article is entitled "Setting Unreasonable Goals" and is dated January 30, 2007.

Yes, the S.M.A.R.T. formula Robert references is slightly different than the one I referenced. And there are additional variations; see "SMART Goals" for a list of many of these.